I was reading Saint Augustine’s book, City of God, he wrote the book after the Visigoths, under King Alaric, sacked Rome in the year 410. In many of the chapters he wrote about the complaints of the pagans against the Christians. A sense of the decline of the Roman Empire permeated the book. One chapter stood out, it described what St. Augustine felt the Roman citizens of the day really wanted. The type of culture and society, the leading Romans of the day desired to live in and wished to remain free to continue until their dying days.
The parallel with our current situation is uncanny. Rome, a once great Republic, had sunk into an Empire that cared only for its own luxuries, not for any notion of honor or fraternity. St. Augustine, in Chapter 20, titled, “Of the Kind of Happiness and Life Truly Delighted in by Those Who Inveigh Against the Christian Religion”, writes of what the Romans of the time truly desire:
“Only let it remain undefeated, they say, only let it flourish and abound in resources; let it be glorious by its victories, or still better, secure in peace; and what matters it to us? This is our concern, that every man be able to increase his wealth so as to supply his daily prodigalities, and so that the powerful may subject the weak for their own purposes. Let the poor court the rich for a living, and that under their protection they may enjoy a sluggish tranquility; and let the rich abuse the poor as their dependents, to minister to their pride. Let the people applaud not those who protect their interests, but those who provide them with pleasure. Let no severe duty be commanded, no impurity forbidden. Let kings estimate their prosperity, not by the righteousness, but by the servility of their subjects.”
I thought the line, “Let the poor court the rich for a living, and that under their protection they may enjoy a sluggish tranquility”, was particularly true today. I equate that with the rich CEO’s and moguls who amassed wealth by exploiting others and have a ready army of eager executives striving to outdo each other in how profit may be increased on the backs of their employees and customers. Rome in the 5th century, as the majority of the world is in the 21st century, a quest for material wealth at the expense of all else.
There is more, which speaks to our consumer society and the media which promotes unbridled political correctness, by attacking anyone who disagrees with the party line.
“Let there be erected houses of the largest and most ornate description: in these let there be provided the most sumptuous banquets, were everyone who please may, by day or night, play, drink, vomit, dissipate. Let there be everywhere heard the rustling of dancers, the loud, immodest laughter of the theatre; let a succession of the most cruel and the most voluptuous pleasures maintain a perpetual excitement. If such happiness is distasteful to any, let him be branded as a public enemy; and if any attempt to modify or put an end to it let him be silenced, banished, put an end to. Let these be reckoned the true gods, who procure for the people this condition of things, and preserve it when once possessed. Let them be worshipped as they wish; let them demand whatever games they please, from or with their own worshippers; only let them secure that such felicity be not imperiled by foe, plague, or disaster of any kind. “
I am not saying we should return to the rampant discrimination of people because of different races, preferences, or other criteria, or to a religious atmosphere of intolerance and exclusion. Spiritism tells us that all should be respected. I am speaking of a culture gone too far in hedonistic pursuits, of which, I have played my part! Where wearing the latest tennis shoes is something that can get you killed. Where there are no rules in the game of accumulating more and more.
I am speaking of moral rules, guidelines that people voluntarily follow because they are the right thing to do. The usual answer to pile on more government regulations is a chimera; the rich and powerful will always find a way around any written code. Only when society shuns, instead of glorifies rapacious behavior will the pendulum start to swing back to a more normal position.
Find out what Spiritism tells us; how we are on earth to improve and help others, by making progress within each life, in my book, The Case for Reincarnation – Your Path to Perfection.