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History of the World by J. M. Roberts This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

History breathes. With every step we take across the earth, we give it life. Each word we speak and each sentence we write reverberate with the voices of those long gone and forgotten. Speak one word, one phoneme, and it echoes to its ancient roots in the city-states of Sumer, Babylon, Egypt, and villages too small to bear a name, but nevertheless imperative to our history and civilization.

History of the World, by J. M. Roberts, is the story of our human race. It is the story of the great and insignificant deeds that have shaped our civilization. It tells of the vast, endless cycle of ruin and rebirth that has been repeated countless times since our first step into cognizance. Reading it, we can learn of those who are otherwise forgotten, of those who contributed so much but are now lost to the shadowy recesses of human memory. They are us, transposed into a separate time, in the same place. They lived and laughed and cried as we do, but we confine them to the penetralia of our thoughts, never to be brought to light. Even though all we are is passed down from them and from the civilizations they struggled to build and maintain, we rarely – if ever – think of them.

The past lives in us. It is the road we walk on, the air we breathe. It is said that, knowing the mistakes of the past, we can keep from making them again. But this is a lie. Just knowing the mistakes is not enough. We must understand them, learn from them, and change our course to reflect that understanding. No one is above the influence of the past. What we understand – what we truly know – shapes our future. Flawed perception, arrogance, or indifference can lead to the wrong course.

To keep from seeing imperfectly, we must educate ourselves about the world around us, and the world behind us. The past, which is a vital thing in every second of our lives and beings, can teach us more about the present than any book. Without knowledge of the past, we can have no grasp of the present, much less the future.

History of the World weaves the threads of the present day back to prehistory. If more ­followed these threads, and ­understood the reasons people today behave the way they do, I believe that the world would be fundamentally altered, a place where our differences were ­understood and celebrated, not condemned. To teach more people about their pasts, to open their eyes to our roots and the ties we share, as this book opened mine, is a way to change this world.

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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