I was reading Will Durant’s book The Life of Greece.  I came across an arresting quote that reflects to me some of the themes we are seeing in America today.  Some of the statements are eerie and could be taken out of any newspaper today.

“We have tried to show that the essential cause of the Roman conquest of Greece was the disintegration of Greek civilization from within.  No great nation is ever conquered until it has destroyed itself. Deforestation and the abuse of the soil, the depletion of precious metals, the migration of trade routes, the disturbance of economic life by political disorder, the corruption of democracy and degeneration of dynasties, the decay of morals and patriotism, the decline or deterioration of the population, the replacement of citizen armies by mercenary troops, the human and physical waste of fratricidal war, the guillotining of ability by murderous revolutions and counterrevolutions.”

Sounds eerily familiar?  I would like to numerate the above and provide the modern day equivalent for today in the civilization of America.

1. “Deforestation and abuse of the soil”

WHEN SOIL GOES “MONO”

Nowadays, however, many farmers do things differently. They practice monoculture, planting the same crop year after year. Doing so may help the farmer survive economically, but it takes a heavy toll on the soil. Soil degradation may result.

Without natural ways of replenishing soil nutrients, farmers grow increasingly dependent on chemical fertilizers. These fertilizers can increase crop yields, but they affect the soil food web. Over time, the microorganisms become depleted and soil loses its vitality and is no longer full of life.

Something else happens too. Lacking microbes to create tiny waterways and organic matter that binds soil together, the soil becomes less porous, and more water runs off the surface. So some farmers need to use more irrigation water for their crops.

Problem is, irrigated land is often prone to salinization. Unlike rainwater, irrigation water contains salts and leaves salt deposits behind when it evaporates. The amount of salt that is left on the soil may be modest at first, but it builds. Once the land becomes too salty, growing anything on it is almost impossible. Ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia disappeared in large part because their farmland contained too much salt.

2.  “the depletion of precious metals”

Off shore drilling.  See Restoring Eden for an active campaign.

3. “the migration of trade routes”

Need we all recognize that China is stepping forward as one of the world’s main trading partners and globalization is taking America from being the center stage of trade.

4. “the disturbance of economic life by political disorder, the corruption of democracy and degeneration of dynasties”

Political Disorder: Partisan politics, right wing vs left wing, christian fundamentalism vs liberal media, disorder is everywhere.

Corruption: Larry Craig and bathroom shenanigans, Oval office trysts, Exxon, corporate backscratching and cover ups to keep the financial system the right side up with the rich getting richer.

Dynasties: The Bushes, The Clintons, The New York Yankees.  All names that bring a sour, been there done that look.

5. “the decay of morals and patriotism, the decline or deterioration of the population”

Did you know Americans have lost 2.84 trillion dollars in equity.  That is $2,840,000,000.00 in lost money.  This will likely result in more unscrupulous behavior, more shady business practices and more cut throat capitalism to gain back some of that lost equity.  More than we know morals and money are very closely linked.

6. “the replacement of citizen armies by mercenary troops”

Now this one is easy… can anyone say Blackwater.  Modern day mercenaries who are not responsible to any governing authority or discipline.  Interesting.

7. “the human and physical waste of fratricidal war”

Now I am not going to talk about the current wars, but rather focus on the other invisible wars that exist in our civilization.  Drug war, sex trade war, child abuse war.  These wars are real, are happening in our cities and are sucking the life out of us.

8. “the guillotining of ability by murderous revolutions and counterrevoltions”

Ability today is still hamstrung by race, religion, sex and politics.

SO THERE WE HAVE IT.

The American kingdom is not much different than that of ancient Greece.  And the simple question is…

Anyone ready for a new Kingdom?  And a new King?  I sure am…

This past week before Mother’s Day I was listening to the radioand I heard a local jewerly company’s radio ad. The announcer in a great, booming radio voice projects accross the airwaves… “And this Mother’s Day give her what she has always wanted, give her a Rolex.” A Rolex. Really? Now unless my mother is related to Snoop Dog, (which I can clearly attest that she isn’t), I don’t think a Rolex is really the gift for her.

I want to understand who the advertising execs were who crafted this fine Mother’s day slogan. Now advertising folks are no dummies. They know what sells. And I guess today Rolex for Mother’s day sells. Gone are the days of Mother’s wanting flowers, cards and breakfast in bed.

What does this scream about our culture? About our materialism? About our greed? When my mother is being tempted by a Rolex for her special day, what material tempation is knocking at my front door? What package will this world system take today to induce me into slumber?

Remember, today, there are children and people who are trapped alive in China. As I sit here in my comfortable coffee shop. There are people, real, actual people who are in rubble, dying, bleeding…

I know one thing… that they are not thinking of Rolex’s, they are thinking about living or dying.

Lord, help those people and help me to see the living and dying happening all around me.