Book Review: Are We Rome by Cullen Murphy

Are We Rome?

Reblogged from SinkingArk:

I’ve developed a recent interest in Roman History- from Romulus & Remus through the Republic to Empire to Fall. Aside from being an interesting time in history in of itself – of which I knew, sadly, too little – I believe there are lessons to take away from the past failings of a giant society. So while on vacation I decided to read a book called “Are We Rome” by Cullen Murphy. While by now some of its contemporary examples are a bit dated (it was published in 2008), I believe Murphy provides very good overviews of both some leading hypotheses on the causes of Rome’s fall as well as challenges facing America today.

Needless to say, this sort of historical comparison invites sensationalism. I found Murphy’s approach, however, to be even handed, and I felt that he tries to objectively evaluate both similarities and differences between modern day America and the Roman Empire. The takeaway is, essentially: there is quite a bit that distinguishes us from the Roman Empire in the 4th century AD, before its fall. However, there is enough in common that should, if not concern us, then at least catch our attention.

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Reflections on reflections on an infamous dictatorship

Reblogged from SinkingArk

“How could something like this ever happen?”
“Why didn’t the people do something?”
“How could a whole country go crazy?”
“If I had lived then, I would have done something.”

Introduction and brief apology

First off – no, the repetition in the title is not an error.  And – I’ll get to the quotes above, below. Promise.

Those following my still nascent blog (thanks, by the way!) may have noticed a decrease in frequency over the last two weeks. I took a few weeks off to travel through Europe, and since I had limited internet access anyways figured I’d try to stay somewhat disconnected (try it sometime, it’s refreshing).

First off, apologies. I know that part of the responsibility – if you want to call it that – of running a blog is maintaining consistency. That said, time away from the monitor’s gradual erosion of my corneas actually allowed for a bit of time to reflect on some of the issues I’ve been writing about.

The first result of this contemplation is the article you’re reading now. It’s a big longer than my usual posts, and requires a touch of historical context, but ultimately ends with an appeal to you, my dear readers. I have a handful of these “reflection” topics I intend to post, and while they will not entail action items, I believe they will lay out more fully the rationale for the moral duty carried by citizens of a democracy to maintain constant vigilance in the form of participation in their self-governance. In other words, why I’m writing this blog at all.

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400th anniversary of the first treaty between Native Americans and the Europeans

Reblogged from

Today is the 400th anniversary of the first treaty between Native Americans and the Europeans who traveled here. The event is part of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, first proclaimed by the United Nations 20 years ago.
Today we’re celebrating 400 years of association the first Europeans to visit the Americas. “Four hundred years ago, we met with the Dutch on the issues of trade, peace, friendship. And we agreed at that time that we would establish a relationship of peace and friendship for as long as the sun rises in the east, sets in the west, as long as the rivers run downhill, and as long as the grass is green. Grass is quite green today, and the rivers are running, and so is the sun rising. So here we are, 400 years.
We’re going to have a 400-year-old handshake at—being met by the kingdom of the Netherlands, Attorney General de Vos and his wife, representing the counterparts of that original meeting, which is the grandfather, I would say, of all treaties made after that. This was the original agreement.”
“We’re concerned about the future, we’re concerned about the Earth — seven generations hence — and the conduct of people,” Oren says. “We wonder, how do you instruct seven billion people as to the relationship to the Earth? Because unless they understand that, and relate the way they should be, the future is pretty dim for the human species.” -Oren Lyons
May we all begin to honor our agreements with Mother Earth before it is too late!
Yours truly,
Four Arrows