That Was Then, This Is Now

Aliens!  It’s going to be aliens, I tell you!

So I was sitting around the other day thinking about Ancient Rome.  Yes, these are the kinds of things I think about when I’m bored.  I was thinking about how similar our modern society is to ancient Rome.  There are a ton of similarities.  Here, check this out….

Rome was a vast commercial empire, the center of trends and fashion.  It was originally a colony of another great but faded empire (Greece).  Rome prospered because its citizens worked hard and took advantage of their natural resources to sustain themselves.  Then it broke away from its parent empire.

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Rome was an advanced civilization.  We hear that all the time but I don’t think that modern people really appreciate just how comfortable life was in your average Roman city.  Buildings had running water.  Bathing was common.  Technology had advanced to the point where nature could be harnessed for the benefit of mankind.  The government was complex and organized with a democracy of sorts in which all citizens had a say.  (Whether you qualified as a citizen was another story though.)

But in its decline Rome’s advancement became its downfall.  They stretched their military resources over too vast a theater of operations.  Citizens of Rome became too reliant on foreign workers to do the jobs they didn’t want to do.  Entertainment became more important than work.  The later Romans developed obsessions with health and fitness as it affected their attractiveness to their neighbors.  The wealthy were more interested in displaying their wealth instead of working for it and the poor preferred “bread and circuses” to an honest day’s work.  Gladiatorial events were the reality TV of the 4th and 5th centuries.

And then it all fell apart spectacularly.  Barbarian hoards infiltrated and sacked Rome.  And most of those hoards had lived within the Roman empire for generations and integrated into the military and workforce.  They were looked down on by the “true” citizens and eventually turned on them.  Which opened the way for a bunch of other tribes of barbarians no one had ever heard of until recently to sweep in and clobber the advanced empire.

Yep, there are a lot of eerie similarities between ancient Rome and modern America.  But one thing isn’t similar.  There are no barbarian hoards these days.

No, really, there aren’t.  We might be tempted to think that China will be the new Visigoths, but I don’t think so.  The Chinese are as enamored of the culture we’ve created as anyone else.  The invaders that decimated Rome came from nowhere (well, as far as the Romans of the time knew they came from “out there”, but no one had ever been there).  They had a vastly different culture and different ideas about things.  They didn’t just march in and replace the Roman heads of states, continuing with life the way it had been.  They obliterated the culture of the empire.  They set the course of progress back by hundreds of years.

In our modern world there really isn’t anyone who has a culture that is so different from ours that their ascendency would mean the total annihilation of everything we know and the establishment of a new order.

Unless….

We’re totally going to be invaded by aliens, people!  That’s the only answer.  We’ve gotten to the point in our re-creation of the Roman empire where the only people who can come in and destroy life as we know it will have to come from a different planet.  The truth is out there, and it’s coming to get us, Independence Day-style!

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Yep, the writing is on the wall.  We’ve tossed enough probes out there into space that they know exactly where to find us.  And one day in the not-too-distant future, while we’re all busy watching The Voice or Big Brother, they’ll show up on our doorstep.  And you know what we’ll do?  We’ll turn on the TiVo, put down our Cokes and our McDonald’s, and step outside to look up at the sky and say “Dude, wtf?”

Of course, we won’t stand a chance against these aliens.  We will have become too used to our instant internet access and partisan politics, our nutritionless food and reality TV.  We won’t even know what hit us.  By the time we realize that we’re under attack, we’ll be so busy texting our friends or posting Instagram pics to Facebook that the attack will already be over.  We will lose and a whole new, practically unrecognizable way of life will begin.

The aliens will probably spread everyone out to make better use of the land.  People weren’t meant to cluster together in concrete blocks, living vertically.  The aliens will likely outlaw gyms in favor of making humans walk, farm, and do housework.  Since all those radio-waves will most likely give them headaches, they’ll outlaw television and the internet and force people to talk to each other or read books for entertainment.  Communities will have to rely on each other for moral and material support.

Yep, just like ancient Rome, we’ll all be set back several hundred years.  It will be such a tragedy to have to eat food from identifiable sources without chemicals in it.  How will we ever survive without exhaust fumes from cars and trucks?  How do the aliens expect us to buy anything without credit cards?  And entertaining ourselves?  How will we cope?

Yes, life as we know it will change when the aliens come.  They’ll set us so far back that we’ll enter another Dark Ages.

Personally, I can’t wait!

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One thought on “That Was Then, This Is Now

  1. I just watched the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still today! LOL! This is perfect timing! It was ok, I still like the original best (had a mad crush on Michael Rennie..he was probably older than my grandfather!)
    Anyway, I’ll be waiting with you! Bring it on!

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