I recently watched a show on the History Channel that profiled Cyrus, the first Achaemenian Emperor of Persia [580 – 529 BCE]. This was an amazing man.
He founded Persia by uniting two Iranian Tribes—the Medes and the Persians. He originally led the Medes to war against the Persians but, unlike every other conqueror of his day, instead of crushing those he overthrew, he took them into his empire as equals. When he took Babylon he allowed the Hebrews, who had been held captive for generations, to return home without requiring any form of ransom. He brought equality to all peoples under his reign. He allowed them to retain their own customs and their own gods. He was hailed as a liberator by everyone he touched.
He developed a set of laws that could have been the basis of the Magna Carta had it been known about in England 1700 years later. The primary difference between the two documents is that, unlike John, Cyrus authored the first voluntarily, placing limits on what a ruler was allowed to do as well as detailing the laws for his subjects.
Would that modern day rulers would take a lesson from their forebears. If they would do that, poll numbers wouldn’t be in the low 30’s, children wouldn’t go to bed hungry and wars would have ended long ago.