Of Textbooks and Empires This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Last year in world history, it took my class just a week to cover the rise, peak, and fall of one of the greatest empires in history. The Romans were responsible for so many technological advances, yet today’s history classes can only muster up a few days to talk about one of the heights of humanity. Hundreds of years in a week? It’s mind boggling.

So what about this great American “empire”? (Shh, don’t tell the government I’m calling it that.) If the Roman Empire occupies only a week of our class time, what about the United States, which has existed barely more than two centuries? It will only be a speck on the timeline of any future world history textbook. A chapter, if we’re lucky.

But how can that happen? Don’t we have the best form of government? The strongest military? The most money? Are we not destined for greatness, a virtue instilled in us by our ancestors who once crossed frontier after frontier to fulfill their Manifest Destiny? Is it not written in the stars that we are the real shapers of history?

How are we so naive and ethnocentric to have thoughts like those?

Step back for a second and think. Human history dates back 6,000 years before Christ. We are currently just 2,000 years after Christ. What makes us think that everything begins and ends with us, when we are part of something so much bigger, so much greater? We are but a measly dot in a time frame that stretches farther than we can imagine.

We’re taught to push limits and declare ourselves the greatest. But one has to wonder if the Romans of so many years ago thought the same thing. Their empire had spread to enormous proportions but still crumbled after so many blows. However vast their empire, I’m sure the Romans never spread themselves as thin as the United States currently has. The American empire has taken too many blows to count in a history that is nothing compared to the Roman Empire. So why are we so confident that one day we shall take up half a history book?

A 200-year history for a country is rubbish to many. Instead of making our dot spread out across the time line, we should focus on darkening it so at the very least we’re unforgettable.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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WhittyKitty This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm
Love it! Have tagged this as one of my favorites! Great job!
HOPEMVP said...
Apr. 29, 2009 at 5:25 pm
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