I read recently volume three of that monumental work by Will Durant, The Story of Civilization. This volume, entitled Caesar and Christ, covers the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and the coming forth of Christianity. It covers a period of 1125 years, from 800 B.C. to 325 A.D. At the end of this six-hundred-page volume, the author writes an epilogue under the caption “Why Rome Fell.” It is generally agreed that not infrequently history repeats itself. The author lists the major causes why this great civilization fell apart. I wonder if there is anything in what he says for us to take note of today. As I read this volume, I was caused to reflect on the similarity of conditions and practices then and now. May I give you briefly his summary:
The first group of causes he termed biological, and no doubt most fundamental. They had to do with the limitation of families, the deferment and avoidance of marriage, the refusal of men and women to shoulder the great responsibilities, God-ordained, of honorable parenthood. He mentioned that sexual excesses were indulged in commonly, both in and outside the marriage covenant. The operation of contraception and abortion was common. This together with other things, resulted in reduced fertility. Sex ran riot, and moral decay resulted.
He mentioned as another cause of Rome’s decay, the waste of natural resources in mining, deforestation, erosion; the neglect of irrigation canals, but most important of all, the negligence of harassed and discouraged men, the failure to teach high moral principles so necessary for the building of real character.
Then he lists with great emphasis the rising costs of government because of armies, doles, public works, expanding bureaucracy, a parasitic court, depreciation of currency, absorption of investment capital by confiscatory taxation.
Is there anything suggestive in this summary?
Source: Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, April 1952. Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) served as thirteenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as Secretary of Agriculture for both terms of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency.
Called Unto Liberty is a project of Steve Farrell and The Moral Liberal.