America was once a country of great realists and pragmatists. This came from the harshness of the environment, the many dangers of frontier life. We had to become keen observers of everything going on around us to survive. In the nineteenth century, such a way of looking at the world led to innumerable inventions, the accumulation of wealth, and the emergence of our country as a great power. But with this growing power, the environment no longer pressed upon us so violently, and our character began to change.
Reality came to be seen as something to avoid. Secretly and slowly we developed a taste for escape- from our problems, from work, from the harshness of life Our culture began to manufacture endless fantasies for us to consume. And fed on such illusions, we became easier to deceive, since we no longer had a mental barometer for distinguishing fact from fiction.
This is a dynamic that has repeated itself throughout history. Ancient Rome began as a small city state. Its citizens were tough and stoic. They were famous for their pragmatism. But as they moved from being a republic to an empire and their power expanded, everything reversed itself. Their citizens' minds hungered for newer and newer forms of escape. They lost all sense of proportion - petty political battles consumed their attention more than much larger dangers on the outskirts of the empire. The empire fell well before the invasion of the barbarians. It collapsed from the collective softness of its citizens' minds and the turning of their back on reality.
"The 50th Law", 50 Cent and Robert Greene