Posts Tagged With: Roman Empire

RE-LEARNING THE LESSONS OF HISTORY

When Jesus walked the Earth over 2000 years ago, the Roman Empire was at its zenith. Ruled by its emperor Augustus Caesar, (who was ultimately responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus), the Roman Empire covered virtually all of Europe including England, North Africa (now called the Mid-East), and Western Asia. Its power and military might was considered almost invincible, as it mercilessly and brutally ruled over conquered lands. To challenge the mighty Roman army was considered a suicide mission. Rebellion against Rome in in countries they ruled was often brutally suppressed with the opposing fighters usually crucified or slaughtered outright, or captured and sold off into slavery. Women were also put on the market for slaves or as concubines and prostitutes. In essence, conquered lands were considered primary sources of free labor or sexual slavery.

Rome, as the most advanced civilization at that time, also had acquired superior technology that was unknown by  other nations on this planet. The Roman government had built an extensive system of aqueducts that brought purified water to the homes of mainly the rich and elite. Advanced plumbing systems, roads and bridges were also being put into place. The Roman Colosseum was built to provide entertainment, such as watching gladiators being torn to shreds by hungry lions, again, primarily for the amusement of the upper classes. (Parts of the Colosseum still exist today as a tourist attraction for visitors to Rome.) But even at the height of its power, cracks began to develop in the foundation of the Roman Empire. Romans started to become soft and lazy, fixated only on the indulgence of usually depraved pleasures and sensuality. An estimated 32,000 prostitutes littered the streets of Rome. Subsequent emperors to Augustus Caesar, over the centuries, such as Nero and Caligula, became infamous for spending huge amounts of resources on lavish parties, where guests drank and ate themselves into almost a coma-like state. Diseases became rampant because of all the prostitutes and beggars living on the streets. Alcoholism was at epidemic proportions. So was political corruption. New, incoming emperors had to bribe the Army for a chance at the throne. If the bribe wasn’t enough, they would be thrown out of office or just murdered outright. During the 100 years starting in 186 A.D. Rome had 37 emperors, 25 of whom were assassinated.

Economic problems also started to multiply. Business owners who had to hire workers couldn’t compete with those that were able to acquire slave labor. Inflation started to skyrocket because once Rome ran out of nations to conquer, the supply of gold into the economy began to sharply decrease. The government had to lessen the amount of gold being put into its coinage, which made the coins less valuable. Eventually, the coins had so little gold that most merchants began to use a barter system. Then there was a growing disparity between the powerful and rich elite, and the rapidly disappearing middle class. (Sound familiar.) In addition, military spending to defend the Empire’s vast borders from barbarian hordes also greatly drained government resources. Finally, the government could not provide sufficient goods for its growing population. It was no longer conquering other civilizations and using their technology as well as their people for slaves. In fact, Rome began actually losing territory it could no longer maintain with its legions.

The final nail in the coffin came from the barbarian hordes I just mentioned. They consisted primarily of the Huns, Vandals, Goths and Visigoths, that came mainly out of what is France and Germany today. They were the terrorists of that era, envious of Rome’s wealth, (compared to the miserable poverty they were forced to live in), and determined to destroy the Roman Empire. The barbarians knew they couldn’t defeat the powerful Roman army in a face-to-face battle; so, as is the case of today’s terrorists, they resorted to acts of sabotage and gratuitous murder. They would attack outlying villages in remote corners of the Empire, that Rome could no longer defend, and murder all the men and children, and carry off the women as sexual slaves. At least those women they were attracted to; the others would also be killed. Then they would sack the village and burn it to the ground. While this was happening, Romans, over the centuries had become soft and lazy, with the rich being so heavily involved in debauchery that they had lost all desire for war. There was no will left to even defend themselves from the oncoming barbarian hordes that were marching toward the gates of Rome. So the government began the practice of hiring mercenaries to wage war on these various germanic and franco tribes. The trouble with using mercenaries, however, is that they’re usually willing to offer their services to the highest bidder. Thus, it was not unusual for these mercenaries to switch sides once they got a better offer from the barbarian terrorists  they were originally sent to destroy.

Finally after centuries of economic dysfunction, political corruption, eroding social conditions,  debauchery among the rich and powerfully connected, and a plain lack of will toward self-defense, the Roman Empire collapsed before the invading barbarians hordes. Historians put the final overrun of Rome by germanic and franco tribes as occurring in 476 A.D. From then on, roads and bridges throughout the former Roman Empire were left in disrepair and fields were left untilled. Pirates and bandits made travel unsafe. Cities could not be maintained without farm products, as trade and businesses began to disappear, because the Roman Empire was no more in the West. Europe then fell into the bleak and sorrowful period known as the Dark Ages, that lasted more than a thousand years, before reformation finally began to put civilization on a path to recovery.

So how is this relevant in today’s word. Today, we have a new set of barbarians at the gates of Western civilization, known as the Islamic-Fascist Jihadists. I’ve written previously and extensively before about the bottomless pits of evil that terrorist groups such as Boko-Haram, ISIS and Al-Qaida crawl out of to commit murder and mayhem. The latest outbreak being the murder of 17 innocent people in Paris last week, supposedly because of religious offense to unflattering cartoons of the prophet Muhammed. Think about it. People are actually being slaughtered because of cartoons in a newspaper. But the key question is whether the U.S. and its allies have the will to take on these present day barbarians and destroy them while it can still be done on the cheap. Or have we become too soft and lazy, or too intoxicated by our current pleasures and indulgences to wage meaningful combat against these cutthroats. Have our political and economic systems become too corrupt to engage in a meaningful battle to protect the gates of civilized behavior. Perhaps we should hire mercenaries to do our fighting since it worked so well the last time.

Every day we fail to take meaningful action, the Jihadists become stronger and the battle becomes more costly. The token bombing raids we initiated against ISIS in Iraq and Syria have had virtually no effect as the terrorists have expanded the territory they now occupy. Present leadership in the U.S. appears to be too dysfunctional and polarized to initiate a meaningful war against Islamic fascism, while Europe appears to have the same level of corruption and malaise, or lack of willpower, about going to war, as the Romans did when faced with their terrorism threats. If Western civilization falls again to the barbarians, the Dark Ages will reappear for at least another thousand years. Will you still be playing with your I-Phones when that takes place?

 

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HUMANS BEHAVING BADLY

Around the time that Jesus walked the Earth, the Roman Empire was in the process of reaching its zenith in power and control. Having conquered almost all of Europe and North Africa, virtually everyone outside of Asia found themselves under Roman domination. Or under the most advanced and enlightened civilization that ever existed on this planet, if one viewed it from a Roman perspective. But many people chaffed under this Roman rule and started to fight back. They were known as the Huns, the Vandals the Goths and other assorted barbarians. These groups knew that the Roman army was far too powerful to challenge head on, so instead they resorted to acts of barbarism, such as attacking villages at the fringes of Roman occupation; and murdering every occupant while burning these villages to the ground. Over a period of centuries, these attacks began to erode Rome’s military strength, and the barbarians started making steady headway as it just became too costly for Rome to continually defend the territories it had previously conquered. Finally, as we all know, the barbarians broke through the gates of Rome, and destroyed the entire Roman Empire. Europe was then plunged into what is known as the dark ages, as all the societal and technological advances that Rome had accomplished were washed away into a sea of ignorance and barbarism. Europe languished in  this black sea of primitivism, until finally the Reformation which started in the 16th or 17th century, began to take hold, and civilization began to advance back to the point of where the Roman Empire had left it.

Today we have a new set of barbarians chipping away at the gates of the American Empire (if you will);  only now we call them terrorists. But the goals and methods of today’s terrorists are remarkably similar to those of the barbarians that destroyed Rome. This came to light in a story that was mind- numbingly under reported by the media until very recently, but is deeply troubling in its implications. Back in April 2013, an attack was made by unknown individuals, on an electrical substation in San Jose, CA. In the dark of night, these individuals cut the fiber-optic transmission lines in the ground that transmitted the substation’s electrical output. They then set themselves up in sniper positions and began firing at the substation equipment with military grade rifles. The firing went on for nearly 20 minutes, and destroyed virtually all of the electrical equipment. More than 100 shots were fired. Then these individuals slipped away in the blackness, undetected. In all, the entire episode took 52 minutes, during which the police, or any other law enforcement officials were completely absent.

This event is so disturbing, on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin. First of all, the attackers were not some college kids out for a midnight prank. The FBI agrees that these people were highly trained in military operations and sabotage. Speaking of the FBI, their investigation into this matter has turned up zero results, thus far. No clues, nothing. The assault destroyed 17 transformers which took nearly a month to repair and replace. Electric Co. officials battled to keep the lights on by rerouting power from nearby substations. But the most disturbing aspect is what if this was just a trial run.

It’s no secret that America’s achilles heel is its electrical grid. A similar coordinated and simultaneous attack  on a relatively small number of electric substations across the country could bring the U.S. to its knees within minutes. The barbarians wouldn’t have to wait for centuries. Without electricity, all business and commercial activity would come to a screeching halt. All planes would be grounded. Try getting cash out of your local ATM when the power is cut off. California law makers and power officials flat out consider this sniper attack on the San Jose substation to be an act of terrorism. It doesn’t have to be Al-Qaida; local, homegrown terrorists will do just as well. The Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has stated that “it was the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the U.S. power grid that has ever occurred.” He further said that the lack of fingerprints on the shell casings left at the scene, indicated how well prepared the snipers had been.

Almost as disturbing as the incident itself, was the lack of coverage by the media. There was no reporting whatsoever, until the Wall Street Journal broke this story last week, 9 months after the fact. Nothing from Fox News for example. They were still too busy bashing and demonizing ObamaCare to allot time for coverage of an act of domestic terrorism. Nothing from the New York Times or Washington Post. Now the major media outlets have finally woken up to just how huge a story it is, and have begun giving it extensive exposure.

Speaking of ObamaCare, I had a discussion recently with a friend who considered it a disaster, and in his mind, a primary reason that I should become a Republican. I was going to tell him that the GOP’s agenda of tax breaks for the rich, trickle-down economics, and slashing government assistance to the poor, sick and elderly was not exactly my cup of tea. Nor was the GOP’s social agenda of anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-immigration, and anti-gun control. Instead, though, I decided to be more flippant. I told him that the image etched into my brain from the 2008 campaign, of Sarah Palin shooting defenseless animals from a helicopter with a high powered rifle, and calling it sport, was still more than my body could cope with. Another example of humans behaving badly. Anyway our conversation sort of petered with that remark.

Anyway if the unpopularity of ObamaCare does cause the Democrats to lose control of both the House and Senate this year, as my friend predicted, think of all the fun that will ensue. You will have governmental gridlock, dysfunction, polarization, and ineffectiveness on steroids.

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