…are forever doomed to have George Santayana quoted to them!
From my friend Borepatch:
And I’ll conclude with a spoiler from his finish because I think it’s so profound. Describing the fall of Rome to a band of thugs after a much smaller Roman Republic had defeated much larger and more dangerous threats:“Fast forward to the 5th century AD, is this the Roman Republic, 1/4 of Italy? No. It now encompasses 70 million people, from Mesopotamia in the East to the Atlantic ocean in the West, to above Hadrian’s Wall in the North to the Sahara Desert in the South, one million square miles. And they’re attacked, not by a formidable power, the inheritor of classical military science like Hannibal, but a thug like Atilla with some Huns and Visigoths and Vandals. By any measure, the threat was nothing compared to the threat that Romans faced when it was much, much smaller. But why in the world could they not defend themselves….?The answer is…in 216 BC a Roman knew what it was to be a Roman. And they were under no illusions that they had to be perfect to be good. All they believed was they had an illustrious tradition that was better than alternative and could be better even more…In 450 AD I don’t think the average person who lived under the Roman Empire…knew what it was to be a Roman citizen, he did not believe that it was any better than the alternative. And when that happens in history, history is cruel, it gives nobody a pass. If you cease to believe that your country’s exceptional and has a noble tradition, and it is good without without being perfect, and it’s better than the alternative – If you cease to believe that! – there’s no reason for you to continue, and history says you won’t. And you don’t.”Can we learn and change course? Or are we doomed to travel that road once more?
It’s a long but excellent talk at the link, full of insight.
Upon reading this, my memory went back to Dr. Smith teaching Western Civ 101, in front of 300+ horny Freshmen and Sophomores, in 1970. (Yep, a long time ago.)
He said The Fall of The Roman Empire was not facilitated by the attacks of the Barbarians from the North, but rather initiated by the Roman people themselves. It seemed they no longer cared about order, morality and law, but fell to (in his words)
“Moral decadence and pleasures of the flesh!”
Followed by the cheers, yelps and claps of the hormonal underclassmen.
And here we are, two or three generations into that same mindset. “What’s in it for me?”
I saw a blip on FB a week-or-so-ago (which I unfortunately was unable to refind on The Internet) wherein students at a rally for Senator Bernie Sanders were shown the following quote, and asked to comment on it:
“Ask not what your Country can do for you; ask what you can do for your Country.”
And commentary ranged from it must have been a quote from Donald Trump, to Adolf Hitler!
Those who fail to learn from history…
The barbarians are at the gate, and also already inside – just waiting…