During Augustus’ reign, as many as 35% of the people in Italy were slaves. 35%!
This made Rome one of five historical “slave societies” in which slaves constituted at least a fifth of the population and played a major role in their economy.
The other major societies? Ancient Greece, Brazil, the whole of Caribbean—the Great West Indies sugar-producing empires of the French, the British, the Dutch, the Spanish—and, of course, the American South.
The practice of slavery amazingly still a problem today. It’s is important to note that every civilization in human history has developed slavery…
Think about that.
Here’s another case study: the plague (also referred to as the Black Death) that swept through Asia, Europe and Africa in the 14th century, killed an estimated 50 million people.
That is by some estimates between 25% to 60% of the European population during that time.
One more, during the Mongol Empire (1206–1368), they had the largest contiguous land empire in world history. During that time, 30 to 80 million people were killed (about half of China’s population).
In all these situations, whether it was having your agency and dignity stripped away or watching 1 in 4 people you knew die from an unknown cause or being occupied by an outside force…
It can feel like the end of the world. This tension isn’t something new we are facing.
Yet, the difference is today we actually have developed weapons that really could end the world.
The world’s current collection of 14,900 nuclear weapons possesses enough power to kill millions of people and flatten dozens of cities in seconds.
You can see the destruction it would cause right here.
Time is running out for us to decide what we are going to do to relieve this tension. We have figured out how to make it go away yet in human history, but if there ever was a time, now is our opportunity.