For any of you who regularly listen to my program, you know that I’m not the most pop-culturally literate person in the world. I’m not up on every movie and television show out there, and the 2009 movie “My Life in Ruins” is no exception. Though I’ve not seen it, I know that it’s a romantic comedy set in the ruins of the former Roman Empire in Greece and Italy. The idea is intriguing, and it’s a great play on words and concepts. That’s why, as I begin my new series on the lessons we Americans can learn from Roman history, I’ve decided to call it “Our Life in Ruins.” The play on words is intended to draw a stark contrast between the current trajectory of our country and the road to ruin that Rome traveled centuries ago. As I’m prone to say, history repeats itself because we weren’t listening the first time.
There’s an excellent book that was published in 1939 titled The New Deal in Old Rome, which I believe is a clear warning to collectivists in our country. A cursory glance at the policies pursued by the Roman Republic, in response to their failure to build a society of justice and ethical principles, demonstrates that government intervention cannot make up for private sector complacency. For example, as Roman concepts of private virtue, faith and family fell apart, the government tried to maintain order and economic efficiency. As with any growth of government, these efforts had the opposite affect, thus reducing the idea of individualism and private morality and removing decisions about life, liberty and property from the people.
Rome was, at the height of the Republic, the most powerful, just and free nation the world had ever known to that point. Their belief that natural law was to be the basis of all legislated law established the rule of law, which led to, what was then, unprecedented human freedom. Their society wasn’t made great by government, but by the virtues and values of their people. It is important to note that, just as private morality made Rome great, private lawlessness destroyed the rule of law throughout the Roman Empire. The same may be said of America today.
As our nation is rapidly abandoning its core principles, I’m reminded of the fact that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Proverbs 1:32 teaches us this truth in saying “the waywardness of the simply will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.” I dare say that our national ignorance as to our national greatness, and our acute ignorance of history, is dooming America to the fate of the Roman Republic. This fate is one that will lead to the rise of empire, due to the centralization of power, and then on to the evitable decline of a great nation.
There is still time for America to avoid this sad fate, but that time is limited. In the coming weeks, we’ll be exploring the parallels between Roman and American history, and we’ll propose solutions to our drift toward secular socialism. The question before our nation at this moment in history is, will we see “our life in ruins?” If we continue down the road of the Romans, tourists will pay to see what used to be our national monuments, like those that tour the grounds that were once the heart of the Roman Republic: the Roman Forum on Capitoline Hill. I pray this is never the case with our country.