It is not the property of any one soil to produce fine fruits and good soldiers, too.Cyrus, King of Persia, according to Herodotus
There is a narrative around the rise and fall of the Persians that hunger, scrappiness and grit built them up to be the strongest empire in the area around 500 B.C. But after they got comfortable in that position and started living lavishly, the empire began to decline.
Whether of not luxury is to blame for their downfall is up for debate, but there is an interesting balance between starting circumstances and the desire to improve. If you have it all, there’s no place to go but down. Especially if you’re ruling an empire that spreads across three continents and cannot feasibly be managed with the technology of the day. But if you’re starting with nothing, the only place to go is up. That’s why cities of farmers become soliders become nations become empires.
There’s an analogy here to the time we inhabit in American history. For many decades most kid have had it better than their parents. But now it’s not clear if that trend will continue. With the rise of household technology like washing machines, and dish washers, housework time reduced significantly. Then we saw huge leaps in technology, and mobility and work. But now we don’t know what will happen.
Most people have it pretty good. There isn’t much reason to be scrappy, hungry and gritty about the country in general. There certainly is not as much motivation to do so as existed around the time of our founding. But hopefully we haven’t hit the point of complacency where the population starts to feel comfortable in this position. Because the moment that happens, someone scrappier will come along and rise up.
The universe arcs toward justice. Empires arc toward decline.