A number I can’t get my head around

It is estimated that more than 90% of all mankind, going back to the very beginning, never read a single written word. I’m having trouble processing that.
Given the impact that books have had our the events of the world, not to mention our personal lives, I’m not sure whether I feel helpless or empowered.
Are we just along for the ride, subject to the whims of Fate, or do we have the power to shape our destiny in a meaningful way?
There a joke that ties together mathematics with philosophy: Given our planet’s exponential population growth, about 10% of all mankind is alive right this second. Which means, statistically, one cannot discount immortality. I can read that and laugh. But I think about the impact of the written word on the events of human history, and then weigh that with the realization that most people that ran around this planet couldn’t actually read, and it makes my head hurt.
So I think I’ll go read a book …

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