In my Classical High School history classes, the question often arose about those in the past who succumbed to totalitarianism: “How did those people allow their freedoms to be taken away so easily?”

As younger students, too many of us took a naively superior view of how easily such national nightmares could have been avoided.

How, indeed!

World neighbors accused of inaction decades and even centuries ago did not even have the benefit of 24/7/365 live coverage of the unconscionable slide of their country into hell that Americans have today. They lacked household technology giving them direct access to their nation’s leaders that we have. And, though they often lived in cultures historically important for centuries, none were citizens of what the world still calls “the greatest country on earth” — albeit hesitantly, now.

Is today’s madness enough to move us to demand justice, law and order? Isn’t it sufficient that Christians, Jews, Muslims and people of color have been shot dead in their places of worship or randomly on city streets? How many courts have to determine various legislative actions clearly unconstitutional and the president declared guilty of ignoring constitutional mandates and civil and criminal laws before the wheels of justice and healing are put in motion?

What has to happen before America rises to her feet in defense of all this country has proudly represented for almost two-and-a-half centuries? How should we react when the president is called “the leader of the free world”? How many lies are too many?

How and why are we letting this happen?

A self-described “pro-life” government rips infants from their mothers’ breasts at the borders, where they had fled seeking safety and a better life. Some 65 children were since reunited with their parents. Thousands more remain in separation, who knows where. In Alabama law, women become third-class citizens — beneath males and the unborn of either gender.

Economic “gains” are praised, though scrutiny shows more profits for companies and their executives while workers’ wages remain basically static. Stocks tumble and rebound as inflated tariffs make China’s goods too costly for working Americans. Affordable health care — a reality for the rest of the “free world” — eludes America, where the first such plan we’ve had for a few years is daily threatened with being dismantled. “Tax cuts” fail to deliver big refunds, as shown this past April.

Meanwhile, the president writes love letters to despots who keep their own people in indentured servitude while waving nuclear threats as a bargaining chip — and playing America for a fool. We hear daily accolades for dictators and insults for allies who have stood with us for centuries, sacrificing their sons and daughters with ours in bloody wars.

We watch as our once-expansive nation pulls further and further inward, toward the abyss, in a straightjacket of narcissism, racism, sexism, assorted phobias, as a deadly ignorance of history, diplomacy and decency takes the wheel. Ballot boxes that were once symbols of hope are seen now as violated props.

Why have citizens of other countries historically failed to do something to avoid falling from freedom to bondage?

For the same reasons we aren’t doing anything effective to stop this trend: apathy, fear of retribution, ignorance, economic need, political ambition, personal gain and, sadly, the re-awakening of what-had-been a dormant reality in too many hearts. Namely, we don’t really love and respect each other and we don’t know and don’t want to know how to enforce the Constitution that contains remedies America needs to heal and survive.

Today a stunned and disappointed world asks Americans: “Why aren’t you doing more to save yourselves, the nation you claim to love, and the world you have led for so long?”

Sadly, the frequent response is a stupefying silence, interrupted by occasional sobs.

Mary Ann Sorrentino of Cranston, R.I., is a former Sentinel columnist. She wrote this for the Providence Journal. She can be reached at thatmaryann@yahoo.com.