Two nights ago I watched (for the first time) the epic Spartacus starring Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier and which was directed by--I was surprised to learn--Stanley Kubrick. The story is about how a gladiator slave led a revolt against their Roman oppressors and over time built a liberated slave army that was nearly able to escape out of Italy and find freedom. The Roman army eventually crushed them, however, and crucified 6000 of them all along the Appian way to discourage the other slaves in Italy from getting any ideas.
The movie was kind of cheesy in parts but I was genuinely moved by the relationship Spartacus developed with the slave girl he helped free who became his wife. Another memorable line was when Spartacus was overwhelmed at the inhumane way he was being treated and yelled out at his captors, "I am not an animal!"
Since Agi and I are both reading Guns, Germs and Steel, we talked today at lunch about how we're seeing more and more how human history is--sadly-- filled up with utterly vicious, selfish behavior. The long existence of slavery all over the world is one of its clearest manifestations and it shows the lengths that people will go to preserve their standard of living. It's very disturbing that slavery in America existed up to the 1860s and it's a major stain, as we all know, on our history and legacy.
I've also read a bit about how slavery still exists today in a number of places around the world in various forms--from forced prostitution to horrendous sweatshops where workers aren't allowed to leave and lose fingers from time to time. These are evils worth fighting against.