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The Roman Factor

How would the world be today if a specific historical event had not taken place?

(this article was written for an essay-writing class, which may explain the overall style)

What would history be like if a certain event hadn't occurred? One would need a time machine to find out. Chaos theory states that the movement of a single butterfly could change the weather: Lots of variables define a complex system that cannot be predicted as we will never know all the data. Sometimes an event or process is just what it is, but sometimes it could change the course of history.

If for instance the Roman Empire had seen its main task not only as military domination but also as philosophical and scientific improvement, things would be different today. Rome was a factor of (bloody) stability. It created nations, was a master in politics, spread its culture and language, "made" peace but less progress.

So Rome created a stable playground, the ancient and early medieval world, and scientific advances were being delayed: The Romans were no natural scientists. The Greeks were, but their own political instability hindered them from further development. Rome’s main interest, although based upon military necessities, was not to improve general technology, was not to adapt - they already were the rulers of the world but failed to keep it that way.

If now for some reason Rome’s strength had been combined with Athens’ science, centuries of progress could have brought us farther than we are today - if we had survived a nuclear age that early. We could have ended poverty, could belong to a galactic empire, could have invented warp drive, and we could have got this time machine by now. Or we might have killed ourselves some centuries ago.

So it seems that sometimes a slower pace is the better solution, and perhaps history has given us a chance that might have ensured our survival: To let our mind grow just a bit faster than our technology.

May 13th, 1998 / August 24th, 1998

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