I can't help but remember the path that ancient Rome took. It puttered along pretty well -- that is, if you weren't being conquered or enslaved -- but there was a point where the rich and powerful became richer and more powerful and fewer in number, and they cared less and less about the growing numbers of people in the underclasses. They put labels on others and cast them to the lions (literally) for entertainment. What do we call a society that values an afternoon's entertainment more than a life?
Before we say that "that was then, this is now," I would encourage you to look at today's entertainment. How much is violence for its own sake? How much numbs the viewer with the attitude that the hero has the right to do whatever he or she wants (including trampling on others) as long as they get their own way? Doesn't that affect how we view and label other sub-groups in our society, how we treat each other in traffic, how we discuss (or argue) political views?
What can we empaths do? Keep hope. More to come.