The case for optimism, cont’d: “The most decadent thing is fear itself”

Andrew Sullivan’s readers have been discussing whether or not America is now like late imperial Rome. One points out:

When did we become decadent? When did the fall of our great society begin? The Rome comparison is a beloved cliche to kick around the comments section on liberal  and conservative blogs alike. And let’s be honest: people have been kicking that around for over 100 years. And while I’m sure we’d like to believe our 20-30 year window is the perfect encapsulation of a Romanesque collapse, can we at least acknowledge that the “fall” of Rome is generally considered to have occurred over a period of 300 years? We’re not even that old. If this is the fall, then societies down the road will barely recognize we even got off the ground. Me? I’m optimistic.

Another concurs:

I think the point when I realized our political system and our entire culture was not like late imperial Rome was when I read all the articles and posts by people declaring that our political system and our entire culture was like late imperial Rome. […]

[W]hat has become an industry in this country — doom and gloom — threatens everything we are.

This country has endured very difficult and trying times and prevailed. Suddenly, we are in danger of extinction because of the deficit (just the part since Obama was elected) and Medicare and unions. Isn’t anyone acquainted with Hitler, the Great Depression, or the Civil War? The most decadent thing in our culture is our hyperbole and our panic. What happened to fearing nothing but fear itself? […]

As for me, I believe in this country, and sometimes surprising even to myself, I believe in the ultimate decency of the American people. We can be late imperial Rome, or we can choose not to be. It is that simple. The difficulty lies in what we do after we stop whining.

Nothing is written, and no one will save us but ourselves. We still can.

More reasons for optimism here.

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