Recently, I wrote that humanity can overcome the prophets of doom who predict all manner of ends to humanity. Perhaps their lack of hope arises from their belief the world is borne out of randomness. One may ask them, then why worry about our fate? For those who have not given up, who see purpose in the universe, and want to keep civilization from faltering, there are many tools at their disposal.
History is one.
What looks impossible in the present looks inevitable in hindsight.
Those are the words written by Lael Arrington when discussing the fate of ancient Rome. In hindsight, the events of history often evoke a certain question: How could they have not seen that coming? Probably because those people were saying: That could never happen to us.
We are seeing the perils of distraction in our own age. Is it enough to bring down empires and civilizations? Francis Schaeffer wrote on how exactly this led to the fall of Rome:
The decadent Romans were given to a thirst for violence and a gratification of the senses…Apathy was the chief mark of the late Empire. The elite abandoned their intellectual pursuits for social life. Officially sponsored art was decadent, and music was increasingly bombastic…As the Roman economy slumped lower and lower, burdened with an aggravated inflation and a costly government, authoritarianism increased to counter the apathy…freedoms were lost…few thought the old civilization was worth saving…Rome did not fall because of external forces such as the invasion by the barbarians. Rome had no sufficient inward base; the barbarians only completed the breakdown — and Rome gradually became a ruin.
Arrington adds that the Romans were “desperate for answers and searching for hope, people felt a deep spiritual hunger.” The Roman gods “provided no answers and less hope” and “without a sufficient ethical base, society was degenerating to the point where even the pagan writers cried out against the morals of the day.”
Our ancestors speak to us. Here is what we did and did not do. Why do you not listen? Why do you insist on repeating our mistakes?
We shouldn’t be as those who see people as nothing more than animals doomed to some depressing fate. Nor should we live in apathy and leave our fate to others or the phantom of chance.
Rome withstood centuries of threats. The one that eventually brought it down came from within.