Living in history

Published 7:20 pm Friday, May 21, 2021

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By Nathan Rice

The Medes, Egyptians, and Babylonians once held the keys to power in our world, but their empires did not last. It was the same for the Ming Dynasty and the Roman Empire. There have been many powerful empires throughout our history. Kingdoms rise, and kingdoms fall. It’s been that way since nations first formed.

I enjoy history, and I have always wondered what it would have been like to be a citizen of one of these great empires as the nation declined and fell. We study the history of the nation’s leaders, discuss the reasons the country fell, and review the great battles that were fought, but we rarely think about the ordinary everyday citizens of those nations.

Today, I am a citizen of a great empire that is beginning to crumble. The United States of America is in decline. I am saddened by the impending demise of the nation that I call home, but I’m fascinated by the knowledge that I am living in an important part of history.

When historians look at the fall of the nation in which we live, they will focus on political figures, civil unrest, the changing culture, and much more. I know those things will be remembered, but I hope they do not miss the number of people in America who weren’t a part of the chaos or engaged in the politics that ended the nation.

I hope they remember the people who loved their neighbors and worked to build a positive community even as things went downhill. I hope the stories of neighbors laughing, playing and working together are not forgotten.

I hope the stories of organizations that pulled together to assist others and help make the country a better place are remembered. I hope the sacrifice of those who worked hard to do good things isn’t lost to time.

Instead of only the listing churches that fought each other, engaged in politics more than evangelism, and caused more division than reconciliation, I hope historians will see the churches who loved each other, helped their neighbors, and stayed focused on spreading the good news.

When social media posts are shown as an example of the division and chaos that ended a nation, I hope they also see the posts of those who used social media as a fun tool for connection and encouragement rather than for a place of hatred. Likewise, I hope the digital footprint of the peacemakers is placed in a more prominent place in the history books than the posts of the troublemakers.

Watching a nation crumble is surreal, but living through it is not like I thought it would be. There are still a lot of good people doing good things. There are still people who care. So while history may focus on the hate that brought down a nation, I hope the memory of those who loved others isn’t lost to time.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at