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What's behind the Mad Craze for pleasure?

Today more time is spent in watching television than in working.
Brutality in sports is taken for granted.
America and Britain are going the way of Rome — and, like Rome, they don't know it!


" 'LET’S LIVE IT UP' has become the password of our time," writes noted sociologist Howard Whitman. Famous historians, political and religious leaders are deeply concerned over the maddening rush of Americans to satisfy every twanging sensual impulse while trying to hide from the awesome dangers of the nuclear age.

What has gone wrong?

There seems to be no end to senseless, idiotic antics on the part of our youths, from piano smashing to the latest fad of "shooting" cough medicines into one's veins to "get a kick." Americans of all ages are literally being DRUGGED INTO DREAMLAND in front of their television sets — so much so that the weekly man-hours spent in TV viewing now surpasses the total weekly man-hour output of all productive labor by 27%. Think of it! A fantastic 2,600,000,000 man-hours a week are flitted away before TV — or as they say in Britain, the Telly. WHAT AN ENORMOUS WASTE OF TIME AND TALENT!


History Ignored

We have all been born or absorbed into a ready-made society. We have taken completely for granted all aspects of our way of life, including our forms of entertainment and pastimes. Only on rare occasions does a person stop and ask himself, "Why do I do things that I do — and should I be doing them?"

Americans have a notoriously short-range view of history. "When any nation has become overly pleasure-seeking, history has already begun its epitaph," continues Mr. Whitman. Yet few are aware of this basic historical truth. The ominous fact that TWENTY-ONE past civilizations have crumbled to the ground because of a gnawing, cancerous decay from within is consciously forgotten by most of our people.

The late Roman historian Theodore Mommsen, asked to comment on American life, answered, "With two thousand years of European history before your eyes, you have repeated everyone of Europe's mistakes." Mommsen said that over fifty years ago! How much more applicable are his words today.


The Deadly Parallel

The mounting craze for pleasure and the love of brutality in sports and entertainment that has sprung up in our society mostly in the past ten to fifteen years was also one of the five major vices that brought the collapse of the Roman Empire.

Few people realize just how closely contemporary American life parallels that of Imperial Rome just before its collapse. Here, from the book, Those About to Die, by Daniel P. Mannix, are some startling revelations about the last days of Rome:

"In a sense, the people were trapped. Rome had over-extended herself. She had become, as much by accident as design, the dominant nation of the world. [Exactly the position the U.S. found herself in at the conclusion of World War II.] The cost of maintaining the 'Pax Romana' — the Peace of Rome — over most of the known world was proving too great even for the enormous resources of the mighty empire. [Just as today, the U.S. is asking its rebuilt allies to help foot the military and foreign aid bill] But Rome did not dare to abandon her allies or pull back her legions who were holding the barbarian tribes in a line extending from the Rhine in Germany to the Persian Gulf. Every time that a frontier post was relinquished, the wild hordes [Communists today] would sweep in, overrun the area and move just that much closer to the nerve centers of Roman trade.

"The cost of its gigantic military program was only one of Rome's headaches. To encourage industry in her various satellite nations [or our allies] Rome attempted a policy of unrestricted trade, but the Roman workingman was unable to compete with the cheap foreign labor and demanded high tariffs.

. . . The government was finally forced to subsidize the Roman working class to make up the difference between their 'real wages' (the actual value of what they were producing) and the wages required to keep up their relatively high standard of living . . . the free workmen's demand for short hours and high wages had grown . . . great. . .

"With the economic and military position of the empire too hopelessly complicated for the crowd to comprehend, they turned more and more toward the only thing that they could understand — the arena. The name of a great general or of a brilliant statesman meant no more to the Roman mob than the name of a great scientist does to us today. But the average Roman could tell you every detail of the last games, just as today the average man can tell you all about a movie star's marriages [or the latest baseball standings] but has only the foggiest idea what NATO is doing or what steps are being taken to fight inflation."

Even a modern sociologist analyzing present-day American life could not come up with a better description. Unable and unwilling to cope with mountainous personal, national and international problems, and with no one seemingly able to show them the .way out of them, Americans are wallowing in the midst of a pleasure binge unprecedented in history. "It is easy to predict we will go down in history as the fun lovingest people on earth," exclaimed one newspaper editor.


Billions for Fun

The current annual bill for fun is in the neighborhood of 41 billion dollars — about four-fifths of the yearly outlay for defense. This covers all forms of leisure-time activities.

The impact of television alone on this country has been so tremendously all-encompassing that 89% of all U.S. homes now have television sets — 14% more than those with telephones, and even 4% more than those having hot or cold running water, indoor toilets or bathtubs. "I think more people want to watch television than take a bath," commented the U.S. Census Director sadly on this pathetic statistic. In Britain eight times as many homes have television sets as have refrigerators!


The Most Tragic Trend

Mere escapism, drifting away from reality, is bad enough, but human nature is never satisfied with time-killing fantasy. In Rome, as the empire was wobbling on its last legs, "death and torture were the only spectacles that could really gratify the people's longing. Death and sex were the only emotions they could still really grasp" (Mannix, p. 1).

Today, just as in Rome, an ever-widening torrent of blood, mayhem and sex is spewing forth from our entertainment media in a frantic effort to satisfy depraved desires that constantly demand newer and more exciting thrills. Hollywood competes with television and the publishing industry competes with both in an effort to carve a greater slice of the entertainment dollar.

The last few years have seen the mushrooming growth of the slick-papered, "sophisticated sex" men's magazines as well as other forms of outright pornography. Not to be outdone, the "legitimate" movie industry is now dealing with all forms of sex fantasy and sex aberration never before seen on the screen. Renegade producers of "art films" are finding increased acceptance of their trash.

Few people are cognizant of the full impact of the sex revolution that has been taking place in the English-speaking world in just the past few years. The famous British author J. B. Priestly said recently that "eroticism flourishes in our society on a scale never known before, NOT EVEN DURING THE DECADENCE OF IMPERIAL ROME." Yes, even worse than in ancient Rome!

"We have deliberately perverted ourselves, transforming honest sex into . . . nasty autoerotic stuff. . . . More and more men are crowding into this blind alley, not demanding more and richer relationships but only a barren titillation" (Saturday Evening Post, April 27, 1963).


Raw Violence

Not only a preoccupation with sex, but a consuming love of violence now characterizes the modern American scene. Not only is crime on a continual yearly upswing but there is another kind of violence gripping our people. It is a strange sort of violence — a vicarious violence that is the paradoxical end-product of a soft, painless way of life.

"Never in the history of man has any generation been as free of pain as ours," wrote the distinguished author, Jessamyn West, in the January 1963 issue of Red-book. "We lose teeth, have babies and undergo five-hour operations, all without pain. We are not only pain-free, we are comfortable. The air is conditioned, in home and cars; the bed preheated when we get into it; and the rocking chair, if we like, wired to oscillate with; out any effort of ours. AND NEVER HAS ANY GENERATION . . . SPENT SO MUCH TIME WATCHING OTHERS EXPERIENCE PAIN AND SUFFER DISCOMFORT. Never has any generation tried harder to hide from itself the fact of death — and at the same time been so absorbed in watching others die."

The movies are doing their best to fill this strange void. For each halfway-decent film produced, there are at least four sordid, sadistic shockers.

Via television a child is often exposed to more violence in 30 minutes than he would normally witness in an entire lifetime. The TV diet for one particular week in Los Angeles was found to contain 161 murders, 60 "justifiable" homicides, 192 attempted murders, 24 conspiracies to commit murder, 83 robberies, 15 kidnappings, 21 jailbreaks, 7 attempted lynchings, 6 dynamitings, 11 extortions, 2 cases of arson, 2 cases of physical torture, and 2 suicides. (Los Angeles Times, May 30, 1963) All in one week!

At times the majority of this mayhem has occurred during the so-called "children's hours" between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays.


The Horrible Result

The present generation of growing young people are becoming completely inured to the stark reality of life with its pain, suffering and death. Death to them is only a game. They vicariously experience the thrill of landing the blow or firing the shot, without imagining that the victim is capable, in real life, of suffering excruciating pain. How many examples have you read of small children shooting their brothers or sisters or even parents to death — and then realizing afterwards they really were DEAD?

The end result of this "education" is the production of cold, hard individuals, incapable of feeling any natural love or compassion for their fellow men. God said this would happen in our day. The Apostle Paul was inspired to write, "This know also that in the last days, perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves . . . unthankful, unholy, WITHOUT NATURAL AFFECTION . . . despisers of those that are good . . . lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God" (II Tim. 3:1-4).