5 Warning Signs of Cultural Decay

EDIT (7/12/2012) – The closing quote I use is merely commonly attributed to Edward Gibbon, but is not, in fact, proven have originated with him.


Our country is in crisis mode. Take a look at the latest headlines or flip on nearest TV. It’s all over. We suffering from a staggering lack of leadership.

In the 18th century, an English historian named Edward Gibbon wrote a book titled The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman. Within the vast volume, Gibbon listed five signs for the decaying Roman society.

The Signs

  1. Concern with displaying affluence instead of building wealth
  2. Obsession with sex and perversions of sex
  3. Art becomes freakish and sensationalistic instead of creative and original.
  4. A widening disparity between very rich and very poor.
  5. Increased demand to live off the state.

Sound familiar?

The Problem is With Us

These days, we worship celebrities and seek salvation in politicians. We leave it in the hands of someone else to stop the downward spirals in our lives, and when they don’t fix everything for us, we say the problem is with them. Well the fatal flaw there, of course, is that politicians are merely a reflection of their people. If there’s a problem with them, there’s a problem with us.

The Occupy Wall Street is a clear illustration of what happens when the most we want to do is point a finger. While it’s obvious a class system slanted against the poor and middle class has evolved, a consistent criticism of those gathered around the country in protest is that they more or less appear aimless. If we truly want change, we can’t keep demanding others to do so without first changing ourselves.

Oliver DeMille, author and founder of George Wythe University, wrote in his book, FreedomShift, about three choices to “reclaim America’s destiny”: 1) a revolution of entrepreneurs, 2) a rise of independents, and 3) building a leading new tribes. The key ingredient in all three choices is leadership.

The Solution is With Us

We have to take personal responsibility for our own lives and our own problems. My experience with leadership development organizations like TEAM and LIFE (Orrin Woodward, Top-25 Leadership Gurus and best-selling author, is one of the co-founders) has not only taught me the necessity for personal growth to enrich my own life, but to also help maintain the freedom in this country.

When we leave our fates in the hands of someone else, we lose our ability to control our own destinies. Our own freedoms are lost. I opened discussing Edward Gibbon. I’ll close with him as well. Let his words be a warning to us all.

“In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.” – Edward Gibbon

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4 comments

  1. […] wrote an article a few months ago comparing the conditions surrounding the fall of the Roman empire to the […]

  2. gradivuus · · Reply

    That quote “In the end, more than freedom…” doesn’t pass the smell test. It sounds like one of those dubious quotes floating around the Internet, in which someone makes up a quote and puts it in the mouth of some famous person in order to make a political point. But since you say you “primarily used” the research of Edward Gibbon, perhaps you have an exact citation for that quotation? Where exactly in his works can it be found?

    1. You are quite right. I stumbled across it when I was researching Edward Gibbon, but unfortunately did not look further into where it originated. The more research I did into the quote, the more I realized it’s likely Gibbon never did write it, and that it was probably adapted from a different author. I generally try to be careful about the people to whom I attribute quotes, and I will certainly make an obviously necessary greater effort in the future. Thanks for pointing that out.

      1. Gradivus · ·

        I’ve since learned it may be a paraphrase of something Edith Hamilton wrote in her “The Echo of Greece” (Norton, 1957), page 47.

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