I try not to fall for the "If there was only One Thing you could tell (the young, the Church, non-Americans, fill-in-the-blank) about (marriage, mental health, etc) what would it be?" because I know that if I picked an answer, even a good one, I would think of a better tomorrow, but the quote would be down and the chance lost. Yet for a few years now I have had a recurring wish to smack people talking about history and trying to use it to prove some modern political point, and reminding them that nearly everyone, everywhere was poor, cold, and oppressed until very recently, and even that only sporadically. For "cold" you can substitute too hot, too dry, too rain-soaked, too diseased or a few other generally-shared environmental situations, often in combination. I plugged Robert Fogel's remarkable book The Escape From Hunger and Premature Death, 1700-2100, way back in 2007 despite his writing style. Even the prosperous had meager portions come February and March every year, and some years were worse. Plus, not that many were prosperous. Hunger was real, year after year, and even starvation would overtake a place a few years over a lifetime - of everyone.
It is true that some had it worse than others, and that oppression was real, and seeing those patterns and understanding them as a way of mitigating injustice today is an entirely reasonable enterprise. But to take an extreme example, the death rate on slave ships was the same for crew and cargo. Does that mean I am saying there was no diffference and would just as soon be one as the other? Of course not. Terrible situations can be made even worse, and usually are, as the people on rung three try to kick back rung two, who in turn are trying to heartlessly kick rung one.
It's just remembering the background that everyone had lives we would find almost unendurable up until about last Tuesday.