Thursday, November 22, 2007

Empires: Brief and Empty Histories

BLOGdoc 5 Separations November 22, 2007

The first chapter of the train wreck that is Iraq divided all public speech between those who have experienced combat and those who have not.

The second chapter is here with us now. It divides those who have read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and those who have not. The United States arose more quickly than the Roman Empire. Do we dare expect its fall to proceed more slowly? More rationally? More comfortably?

No American Rubicon will be required in its passage from Republic to Empire. Our modern Rubicon requires only sufficient fear, executed effectively, for our ultimate willingness to accept the unbridled ambition of pathetic incompetents with tragic, meager goals and corresponding bargain basement promises.

Being driven by the fear of one’s own legacy is similar to being addicted to white sugar. Or maybe, to even less tasteful, high fructose corn syrup. The “drug” is available, dependable and destructive.

It becomes dull, boring. There is no final crisis of the spirit from self-observation which might resurrect human life in the afflicted. There is only a long, slow decline. There is no fiery moment of self-reclamation, only a suspicious kind of irritated soul more akin to a lingering toothache.

A Chinese proverb of suspicious origin:

“If your servant carries the stone three miles the first day and you beat him. And on the second day, he carries the stone eight miles and you beat him. You should plan on three miles per day.”

As active voters we are, in a sense, the servants of our Constitution and our democracy. The perceptions of the self-image of these “masters who have stones which must be carried” are inflated by their transitory positions and power.

We must never see them as anything other than vacuous.

Will we, as individual citizens, dare dream that we, as individuals, might try to do better?

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