All I Need is a Compass
Caitlin Roberts, Division 2, 9th grade #ws17e-s2d2

The year is 1502. Cold waves beat against the wooden hull of a ship, which is crusted with barnacles from months of travel. In the air a gull screeches, one of the only sounds other than the roiling water. On the ship a sailor stands, gazing out at the perilous ocean. The cruel wind beats against his chapped cheeks, and salty spray washes overboard, drenching him to the bone. Despite all of this, the man smiles. He looks down at an object in his hand. A compass, with faded, black numbers and a rimming of gold. This compass is leading him home.
When I think of the importance of technology to me, it all leads back to one root. Communication. Whether I'm on my smartphone or my laptop, I'm communicating with somebody. It's not just my family and friends, though they are important to me. When I'm looking up pictures of places in Italy that I someday hope to visit someday, or I'm reading a paper on Confucianism, I'm truthfully communicating with another part of the world. And the technology that made this communication possible, hundreds of years ago, was the compass.

People were able to set sail and discover new worlds without the compass. They could learn new stories, methods of thought, and medical practices. But those new ideas would only remain known to them unless they were able to return home. The compass allowed them to navigate their way back, and thus they were able to share all they had experienced and learned.
I truly believe that humans are only fully able to cultivate their minds, when they are being influenced by all different cultures. Whether it’s trying new foods or hearing new stories, the copious mix of perspectives that we experience in our life is what make us such unique individuals, and allows us to develop innovative thoughts. So, one of the reasons that a compass is so important to me is that it allows people to travel great distances and experience these things.

Now in days, there are other objects that could work much quicker than a compass. I can look up hundreds of Ethiopian recipes, or legends from Greek mythology in seconds. We don't need to actually head out on an adventure, to experience different ways of life. But are we really able to genuinely experience other cultures over a screen? Maybe if other technology was taken away, more people would be inspired to go out and learn things first hand.
Although I think that the compass is important to everyone and to
history itself, there is a part about it that personally calls to me. Since I was young, it has been my dream to travel and authentically experience new cultures. However, my family is also extremely important to me. Traveling around the world would really mean nothing, if I wasn't able to return home and share what I had learned with them. So, the fact that a compass will insure that no matter where I go, I will be able to locate my home, is simply invaluable to me.

Even after hearing my thoughts, some might still believe that the compass is insignificant. What is it compared to today's medical advancements? Why would I want to find my way north, when I can have a smartphone? The compass was made all these other advancements in technology possible. It allowed people to travel and share their ideas, so that we could reach a point in time where we have all these great inventions. The truth is, I could live without a smartphone, a computer, and a car. But I couldn't live without a way to travel, and a way to get home. So, no matter what others believe, a compass will remain the most significant piece of technology to me.
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