Knowledge is one of the most important factors
in maintaining a peaceful and free society.
Knowledge allows a society to plan for the
future, while learning from past mistakes. Many
great nations have fallen into war and chaos
because they did not utilize the wisdom gained
from the past. Many societies problems were
preventable, if people had used the lessons at
their disposal and placed emphasis on solving
their problems through the use of their intellects,
rather than their weapons. A great example of
this is the Roman Empire, which allowed many
of its problems to grow and fester, before
attempting to check them. The Roman Empire
was a powerful, seemingly invincible, civilization.
Rome thrived in glory for many years, a model
civilization admired by all, until it started to fall
apart. Many historians argue the factual reasons
for Romes downfall. Some say it was crime;
others say crooked government was the cause.
Still others say it was the focus on entertainment
and luxuries. All of these problems could have
been avoided and peace would have been
maintained. Yet, the Romans did not believe that
their empire could fall and chose to ignore their
problems, believing they would go away on their
own. Obviously, that did not happen and, as a
result, the Roman Empire fell.
In America today we have all of these problems.
Are we going to be next to fall? Or, have we
gained knowledge and wisdom enough by
studying the errors of other nations past history
to maintain peace in our own time?
In Rome, crime made it unsafe to travel, to sell
goods, or to go to the market. The Romans ran
the risk of being robbed, traveling from place to
place. Today, in America, we run the risk of
being mugged just going to the store. In some
cities it’s not safe to go out at night. Stores are
always being robbed, vandalized, or destroyed.
There is even a murder committed approximately
every twenty seconds. Crime is just as much, if
not more, of a problem now in America then
back during the fall of Rome. We have the
knowledge of Romes past failures, yet we
continue on the same path. If the United States
of America does not use Romes failure as a
guide of what to avoid, the results could be
Toward the end of Rome, the government was,
for the most part, in chaos. Every time the
current Emperor died, there was a civil war to
decide who would be the next ruler of Rome.
The politicians no longer cared about Rome.
They became self-centered, and used all their
power to better their own lives. Luckily, things in
America are not yet that bad. However, it’s not a
shining example of how things should be either.
There are always stories in the newspapers about
politicians taking bribes, or participating in other
unethical deeds. Whitewater, Watergate, the
Monica Lewinsky affair, the endless political
back-stabbings are all blatant examples of this
The Roman Coliseum played a large part in
another of the more accepted theories as to the
downfall of Rome. The Romans spent more time
at the Coliseum than they did working. This led
to poor trade and an economic downfall. People
were simply more interested in seeing a chariot
race or gladiator combat than going to work and
being paid. In America, our society is greatly
influenced by entertainment. We all love TV and
sports, but, luckily, our lives are not ruled by
them. But who is to say they wont be? Its
unlikely, yes, but not impossible. Lots of people
try to work entertainment into their schedules. It
could very well become more popular to just go
to a football game than to work.
These were not the only reasons for the downfall
of the Roman Empire. There were many others,
but these were certainly some of the more
important reasons; reasons and circumstances
that we also have now. Our crime may not be as
bad, our politicians not as corrupt, and our desire
for entertainment not as overpowering, but we
have them nonetheless. Hopefully, though, our
problems will not progress to the point that they
destroy our civilization as the Romans problems
did theirs. Hopefully, our great emphasis on
education for all citizens will allow us to work
through our nations problems and remain a
strong and peaceful nation.
We must stay on our guard. Many still believe it
wont happen to us. Just because it happened to
another nation, under similar circumstances, does
not mean the United States will suffer the same
fate. It has already been shown, however, that it
can, and probably did, happen to some extent
during the Vietnam War. The situations that we
faced in Vietnam were very