People have been debating for years the possible parallels between the decline of the Roman empire and the signs of US "imperial" decline. Huffington Post publishes Barton Kunstler's musings on this theme. One of the six parallels he highlights especially caught my attention:
4. Spread of escapist cults. Christianity was only the most successful example of the "exotic" cults that offered Romans solace when their own society, and thus its prevailing religion, began to fail them. Today, the U.S. is held hostage by those for whom carrying any weapon, anywhere, is a sanctified religious belief. We have members of Congress who don't believe in evolution, who are as literalist and intolerant about their religion as any ignorant 10th century rural priest. The entire globe suffers from the ravages of extreme, often violent, fundamentalism. Fundamentalist thought relies on pre-processed sound-bites that obstruct any considered address of real-world problems. It makes negotiation impossible. Part of the paralysis of our national government lies in the fanatical religiosity that many of our representatives bring to the political process.