America, Whither Goest Thou?

The Fall of Rome

I’ve often wondered if the normal citizens of Rome realized that their civilization was on the verge of collapse before it finally came to pass. We’re told it was attacks by the Goths and Visigoths that precipitated Rome’s downfall but what if the mechanisms of state had their own demise hard wired into the system? And what was it like from the inside? Did food and water become scarce? Did crime and disease run rampant? Were there riots?  Did the remnants of the state perpetuate more and more violence against its own citizens? How quickly did it happen? Was it gradual or sudden? What did it look like to nations outside the empire? Was there a sense of vindication and schadenfreude? Did they shake their heads and say, “Well, they had it coming.” Or did they have a premonition that the fall of Rome would drag the rest of the world into darkness as well?

What Rough Beast…?

It occurs to me that we may be witnessing the collapse of a great civilization right now. I’m speaking of American Civilization, mind you, not Western Civilization at large– though with climate change, regional wars, and resource depletion, a global collapse might not be far behind. This damned mass shooting of 19 school children and 2 teachers in Texas so soon after the racially motivated slaughter of 10 blacks in Buffalo; the culture war raging that threatens to make The Handmaid’s Tale into a work of non-fiction; the wholesale denial of climate change by the right wing; the selfishness of Americans who would rather risk sending their loved ones to the hospital than put up with the minor inconvenience of wearing a mask during a pandemic or getting vaccinations that would help save tens of thousands of lives…I feel like we’re witnessing the end of a deeply dysfunctional society. And for all they’ve given to the world through their dynamic young culture, my gut tells me that they have it coming. Not all of them – certainly not a majority of them. But they all  live in and seem to tolerate a system that is spinning out of control.

Stuck In Neutral

They have the power to change but they won’t do it. Members of Congress are hostage to powerful lobbies and interest groups. The greed and selfishness that is baked into their entire system has made close to half of them intractable in their ideological bigotry. Things that are common in most other developed countries: free health care, a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, gay rights, voting rights, the regulation of fire arms, etc., are all anathema to these “so called” Christians.

What Lies Ahead?

There’s a saying that things change very slowly until they don’t, then they change quite quickly. Let’s hope that the endgame of America’s culture wars brings changes for the better, not a Mad Max apocalypse that will drag the whole world into a new Dark Ages.


Michael Wray

Hi, My name's Michael. I'm a writer/illustrator working as a primary ESL teacher in Istanbul. I love art, music, literature, and traveling.