The Lost Art of Civility

I will be discussing this subject with Dr. Steven Mintz on our upcoming Weekend Radio Program which airs on twenty stations in addition to our pod cast which you can listen to at beginning on Saturday morning at midnight pacific standard time.

The correlation between The Fall of Rome and current attitudes in America are simply amazing. As a preview, this article is posted below. I am very curious what you all think about this subject

What does America Have in Common With the Roman Empire?
The Lost Art of Civility
It’s the time of the year when I reflect on both personal matters and those related to the cause I represent – bringing ethics and civility back to society. There’s a lot to think of with respect to the latter. This is especially true with the impeachment of President Trump in play, in part due to the ethically questionable actions he’s taken. Moreover, we continue to see violence in our streets and schools; fights that break out in stores and even airplanes; vulgar language used almost everywhere, especially on the internet; and a general disregard for others with whom we disagree as evidenced by the cancel culture.
A lot has been written recently about our ‘cancel culture,’ where someone says or does something that’s captured online and then gets denounced online by those who object. The goal is to cut the initial messenger off from influence. The guilty party is shunned from society. Being cancelled can cost friends, coworkers, a job or even a career.
The cancel culture in society is a manifestation of an us versus them mentality where opposing groups look for dirt on the other. The idea is to make them look as bad as possible so the doers come out looking better. The idea that we should tear down another person or group that we don’t agree with is a classic case of our inability as a society to discuss matters openly, without prejudgment. It’s easier to criticize then build greater understanding. That takes work and a thoughtful approach to civic discourse.
I believe in certain core ethical values: honesty, kindness, empathy, personal responsibility, and integrity – which is the whole of an ethical person. There are other values as well but the idea is to treat people the way you wish they would treat you – and that includes respect, which seems to have disappeared from society.

I do a lot of television and radio interviews and am always asked what can be done to reverse the trend of declining ethics and civility in society. It’s a tough question to answer because our decline as a civilized society has been happening over a long period of time. We can blame President Trump for it, but the fact is it started before his term. We live in a society where all-too-many want to see our leaders in the face of opponents and making disparaging comments about them. I’m saddened that no one on the campaign trail seems to care about these issue and the debates to date have not touched upon it.

In an article on incivility in America by Ray Williams, he talks about the Roman Empire, 
“The Romans, in creating an empire that expanded around the world put great emphasis on civil virtue. The Romans believed in honest debate, civility in the streets and treating adversaries with respect, even if defeating them in battle. Historians looking at the fall of the Roman Empire have tried to find reasons why the great Empire failed. Many see the loss of the civil society as a major reason for the fall of the Romans. People stopped treating each other with respect. The Empire itself stopped treating those they conquered with respect. What was once a society of mutual respect for all became a society of overconfidence of complacency. The very values that made the Roman Empire great were the very values that were left behind. The Romans in creating an empire that expanded around the world put great emphasis on civil virtue. The Romans believed in honest debate, civility in the streets and treating adversaries with respect, even if defeating them in battle.”
Think about this with respect to today’s society in America. Does it sound familiar? Are we headed down the same road as the Romans?

There is a famous quote: ‘Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.’ I hate to be a pessimist at this time of the year but fear we are going down the road where we’ve not only lost our moral compass but have smashed it to pieces.


  1. On January 7, 2020 at 12:35 pm,
    Matthew says:

    Next, you can cover righteous anger: the lost virtue.

    Rulers want the masses to view all anger in a bad light so that when it is expressed for completely legitimate reasons (perhaps due to something THEY have done) it will be ignored or worse (perhaps defined as mental illness?). “Hate speech” anyone?

    • On January 7, 2020 at 5:35 pm,
      Big Al says:

      Interesting comment, Matthew. Perhaps righteous anger is the lost virtue.

  2. On January 7, 2020 at 1:43 pm,
    cfs says:

    The rise and fall of empires is an interesting topic. It seems to me the rise often occurs with a breakthrough in technology, combined with a charismatic leadership.
    I do not know enough about the Chinese Dynasties, and so will omit any discussion there, although it was probably associated with early bronze production capability.
    For Rome it was certainly sharp, light bronze swords and thick hide leather armor that gave their soldiers an edge over pointed sticks and stones of other European armies. For the Roman Empire decay, the reason for its fall is not so clear and is still a topic of debate among historians, perhaps mainly because it is a symbol of what we fear about our own civilization/empire.

    There are many different theories about why the Roman superpower having ruled for over 500 years slowly crumbled and fell. It seems to me there was not any one single cause.

    Possible Major Causes that have been discussed by historians are:
    1. Conflict between the Emperor and the Senate. (Shades of Trump vs. Deep State ?)
    Certainly there was a weakening of the emperor’s authority (after Christianity the Emperor was no longer seen as a god)
    2. Political Corruption :
    There never was a specific system for choosing a new emperor, leading the ones in power to “sell” the position to the highest bidder.
    3. Poor Economics and wasteful spending:
    –The Romans were very fond of their prostitutes and orgies and wasted a lot of money on lavish parties, as well as their yearly “games”
    4. Climate Change:
    There is clear evidence of definite climatic change towards the end of the Empire, which resulted in lower food production. The major grain production areas of North Africa became much drier and had serious production decreases.
    5. Slave labor and price competition:
    Large, wealthy farm owners used slaves to work their farms, allowing them to farm relatively more cheaply, but in contrast to smaller farmers who had to pay their workmen and could not compete on prices.
    With weather changes and deteriorating economic conditions, farmers had to sell their farms, leading to high unemployment figures.
    6.Economical Decline:
    After Marcus Aurelius, the Romans stopped expanding their empire, causing a decrease of gold coming into the empire. However the Romans kept spending, causing coinmakers to use less gold, decreasing the value of money.
    7. Military spending:
    Because they wasted so much money and had to defend their borders all the time, the Government focused more on military spending than building houses or other public works, which enraged the people.
    Many stopped volunteering for the army, forcing the government to employ hired mercenaries, who were expensive, highly unreliable and ended up turning against the Roman Empire.
    The decrease in wealth production cause a slowing in technological advancement .
    The Romans were great engineers, but did not focus on how to produce goods more effectively to provide to their growing population.
    8. The Eastern Empire :
    The Roman Empire was divided in a Eastern and Western empire that drifted apart, making the empire easier to manage, but also weaker.
    It is possible that the Empire’s continuous significant expansion was its own downfall in the end.
    99. Civil War and Barbarian Invasion:
    Civil war broke out in Italy and the smaller Roman army had to focus all of its attention there, leaving the borders wide open for the barbarians to attack and invade. Barbarian bandits made travel in the empire unsafe and merchants could not get goods to the cities anymore, leading to the total collapse of the empire. Here it is possible the
    400 year cyclicality of climate and a Solar Minimum initiated the movement of Barbarians south to warmer regions; of course, combined with riches of plunder.

    The Similarities between then and now are, indeed, legion…..and scary!

    (I was going to discuss the British Empire, but think I’ve commented enough for now.)

    • On January 7, 2020 at 2:23 pm,
      irishtony says:

      cfs….That was a very good piece you just wrote .
      Where you writing about the Roman Empire , or the American Empire…seems to me there is not much difference.
      Roman Empire = 500 years. = long Empire
      American Empire = 1913 – 2020 something = very short Empire .

      • On January 7, 2020 at 2:54 pm,
        cfs says:

        The Us Empire has not ended yet, so we do not know its duration, even though we probably both suspect it will be much shorter than 500 years.
        Things happen faster nowadays than historically, so one should not expect a similar duration.
        Roman Empire longer than British Empire, British Empire longer than American Empire .
        Next Empire shorter than American Empire ?
        Maybe, Maybe not, as next Empire will probably be in space.

        Human behavior and morals have not changed much over millennia, so perhaps that is the reason for parallels.
        So perhaps collapse of Empire is due to human deficiencies, of which civility is just one.

      • On January 7, 2020 at 5:39 pm,
        Big Al says:

        Mr. Irish,

        Interesting comment that I definitely agree with. Thanks.

  3. On January 7, 2020 at 2:06 pm,
    irishtony says:

    This is a very interesting article…& well worth reading , as to why we are where we are today.

  4. On January 7, 2020 at 2:17 pm,
    Robert Moriarty says:

    Well, well. Another show drops.

    Russian president Vladimir Putin lands in Damascus on unannounced visit

    Now all we need is a Chinese visit and we will see checkmate

    • On January 7, 2020 at 3:06 pm,
      cfs says:

      I don’t understand “checkmate”. It was never Trump’s intention to conquer or invade Syria. Trump was fighting ISIS, to some extent Syria because of their aid to ISIS.
      Putin does not particularly like Muslims since the Moscow theater siege and Chechen rebel behavior and will not tolerate ISIS.
      The Russians need their Mediterranean port of Tartus. No way they were going to give that up, So I really don’t understand “checkmate”.
      Did you think Trump wanted to drive Russians out of Syria or something?

      • On January 7, 2020 at 3:27 pm,
        irishtony says:

        cfs . I have to say , thats the first time i have heard anyone say , Syria was giving aid to Isis….Am i missing something here ? .

        • On January 7, 2020 at 4:25 pm,
          cfs says:

          The aid was indirect. Humanitarian aid to areas controlled by ISIS members not fighting Assad, was given, but giving the aid means ISIS doesn’t have to divert cash from its war budget to help feed the local population or the displaced persons, allowing it to focus its resources exclusively on fighters and war-making,

          • On January 7, 2020 at 4:34 pm,
            cfs says:

            Israel also gave aid directly to ISIS at certain times.
            (on enemy of my enemy is friend logic.)

      • On January 7, 2020 at 3:51 pm,
        b says:

        cfs, you still think we,trump has been fighting isis?
        You honestly believe that?

        Even after the reams of evidence that showed we support isis?


        • On January 7, 2020 at 4:09 pm,
          cfs says:

          YES, I beieve Trump has been fighting ISIS.
          Trump is not Obama, who supported ISIS.
          Trump’s policies are not Obama’s policies.
          I do realize that Trump could not immediately reverse the humongous ship of state.
          He had to pay attention to the economy first which was sinking.
          Then revitalization of the military, which was ignored by Obama.
          Trump still has not drained the swamp, and the Deep State is still fighting him every inch of the way.
          And he still working hard on cutting the entanglement of stupid rules and regulations.
          He’s made little headway on education, which is deteriorated.

          • On January 7, 2020 at 4:16 pm,
            cfs says:

            If Trump supports ISIS, how come we still have about 10,000 ISIS prisoners in Iraq and Syria.
            Obama was the president that released them.
            Guantanamo is being refurbished in case we have to ship them there as we scale down in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

        • On January 7, 2020 at 4:41 pm,
          CFS says:

          Don’t trust the media. Go to direct sources if possible.

          Is this Trump supporting or opposing ISIS ?

      • On January 7, 2020 at 10:29 pm,
        Robert Moriarty says:


        Do you live in some alternative universe?

        Who forced Trump to invade Syria if it was not his intention to conquer the country?

        He did invade Syria (totally illegally by the way but neither you nor Jim M will address that fundamental issue) and if he didn’t intend to conquer it, wasn’t the whole thing a waste of time and energy on his part.

        You refuse to acknowledge that Syria is a sovereign nation. Iranian troops were invited in to fight ISIS that was being supported by the US and Israel. Now Trump refuses to leave. Who is forcing him to stay?

        Soleimani defeated ISIS with the support of the Russians. The US didn’t defeat anyone except themselves.

    • On January 7, 2020 at 5:44 pm,
      Big Al says:

      Not sure just what you are refering to here Bob. “Another shoe drops? Did you misspell shoe or show? please clarify.

      • On January 7, 2020 at 10:40 pm,
        Robert Moriarty says:


        While the vast majority of people commenting on the latest Trump fiasco are talking about the US actions or Iranian actions, actually I think it makes far more sense to figure out what the Russians and Chinese are going to do. At the end of the day they will determine the outcome.

        Iran gained great power by the insane and illegal invasion of Iraq based on a mountain of lies. While Trump and the neocons want to blame Iran for filling the vacuum, the US created the vacuum of power.

        Israel and the US wanted to overthrow Assad in Syria. The US pretended to “fight” Isis but in fact were supporting them with money and weapons. The Russians and Soleimani were the ones who actually defeated Isis. The Russians looked at the insanity of the US supported destruction of Libya and said it wasn’t going to happen to Syria. And it didn’t.

        There is no way in hell that Russia and China are going to sit and watch Israel and the US turn Iran into a desert. The assassination of Soleimani will mark the end of US control of the middle east. It may take the deaths of thousands of American kids for the US to wake up but Trump has lost control and that will be obvious soon.

        Trump just handed control of the middle east to Putin. China will be heard from soon and no doubt it will be a negative message to the US and Israel.

        It’s all over but the dying. Trump issued a stickon target to be placed on the back of every American serviceman in the middle east. The more troops he sends in, the more that will die. Soleimani didn’t kill them, Trump did.

    • On January 7, 2020 at 8:38 pm,
      Big Al says:

      I am getting very confused and will be back tomorrow morning.

  5. On January 7, 2020 at 2:18 pm,
    Robert Moriarty says:


    • On January 7, 2020 at 2:29 pm,
      irishtony says:

      Rob…..Does a pair of shoes on the ground ,beat boots on the ground ?
      Just asking for a poker playing friend of mine .

      • On January 7, 2020 at 2:30 pm,
        irishtony says:


        • On January 7, 2020 at 3:29 pm,
          cfs says:

          Back to the topic of decay of empire:
          It seems to me Empires become rich enough to satisfy the population and then decay as satisfaction fails to be met..
          Perhaps some of the people are never satisfied and always want more; perhaps the lazy are always satisfied with what they have, but on average increasing the general satisfaction of a nation must decrease the speed of growth. and attention turns to pleasure or enjoyment of life itself.
          The speed of economic growth also depends on the percentage of socialism to capitalism in a society. The greater the percentage of socialism, the greater the need for taxation.
          As a larger percentage o fthe economy is used for socialism, the growth rate will decrease. It is a complex balance of factors that will keep the majority happy and produce a stable society.
          If either corruption becomes too great or “too much” of the economic resources is used by the government, growth slows and probably satisfaction decreases, leading to unrest and eventually to end of empire.

        • On January 7, 2020 at 3:39 pm,
          cfs says:

          Specifically with regards to the U.S., the population appeared to start to become dissatisfied with Government during the Vietnam War; sometime in the 1960s.
          The first affected were clearly students being drafted and University campuses were the location of many protests.
          Certainly protests seem to foster a decrease in civility.

          • On January 7, 2020 at 5:30 pm,
            OOTB Jerry says:

            The population of college students are going to be happy, this time around……
            They can join the military and get the college debt paid off…….unlike VN, where they had the draft and the ping pong ball draft…….

    • On January 7, 2020 at 5:48 pm,
      Big Al says:

      I assumed that was the case.
      Have you ever read “Americas Created Al-Queda and the Isis Terror Group byi Chengu.”?

      I personally just finished reading it.

  6. On January 7, 2020 at 7:06 pm,
    buzz says:

    4 fathers: Trump’s quick-witted maneuver reeks Reaganesque, and Nancy would approve–

    • On January 7, 2020 at 8:40 pm,
      Big Al says:

      I am sorry, but I am getting very confused right now. I am going to post an editorial which I did with Frieda and the it a night.