These Inevitable, Changing, Lives

Between watching Barbarians week, where the History Channel chronicles the rise and fall of the various Barbarian peoples, and that effect on Rome and the Byzantine empire, and the annals of John Titor, the alleged time traveler from a not too distant but war-ravaged future, which I’d recently been turned on to, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how temporal our lives are, or at least our life styles.

The Roman people, those actually living within the city walls anyway, were accustomed to running water, grand sporting events and lazy, bloated belly evenings. Life for them seems to be quite similar to our American lifestyle, at least on a relative basis: they had a very easy life compared to the poor living in downtrodden border villages, they were the greatest power in the world, they felt secure in their empire’s power to protect them, and they were able to focus on the materialistic and pleasurable over merely the essential. And then came the Visigoths and took that all away.

A nuclear winter might not be as far fetched as your average Swartzenegger film makes it seem. And if it comes, who will survive, and of those people, who might wish that they hadn’t?

Perhaps, as Americans, with oceans between us and any potential enemies, having been attacked twice in the past century or so, and only in small, relatively casualty-free spurts compared to most other countries who find themselves under attack, we are just all too fat in our security. If the time ever came for us to take up arms and defend ourselves, could we? I find it hard to picture most of the people I see driving in and out of the mall able to run through the woods, hide in the bushes and shoot and be shot at. I can barely imagine myself doing it, in all honesty.

I’d like to think that I’ll die in an America that’s as safe as the one we live in now, with my grandchildren doing the same, but World War one wasn’t that long ago, and nothing is to say that the next time it comes around, North America will be as luckily spared.

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