Quiz: Where Were You Born in a Past Life?
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Where Were You Born in a Past Life?
By: Zoe Samuel
Image: Jorg Greuel/Photodisc/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Human history has mostly been a story of two conflicting narratives. On the one hand, as Hobbes pointed out, people's lives have generally been "nasty, brutish, and short." People have suffered from disease, death, and war in appalling numbers. Most of human history has been all about monarchy as a political system and feudalism as an "economic" system (of sorts), meaning that prosperity was limited to a very small number of people and freedom was basically non-existent. For many people, the situation was even worse, as the law of their time barely considered them to be human, and sometimes did not consider that at all.

There is another, story, of course. Human history, especially in the last few hundred years, has been, as de Tocqueville noted in "Democracy in America," a splendid march toward increased equality and freedom. It hasn't been a simple road, but life expectancy is still rising, child and maternal mortality have plummeted in most of the word, literacy and numeracy are becoming the norm nearly everywhere, women are getting closer to equality, slavery is legal in fewer and fewer jurisdictions, and every week, 137,000 people escape extreme poverty (yep, you read that number right). So actually, things are looking up.

All this progress depends on certain ideas and historical periods either flourishing or ending - and which of them you lived in before this life will inform how you feel about which narrative has been dominant. It's time to figure out where (and when) you were!

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