A Journey From Roots to Branches

In the era of CoViD, our lives are dominated by distancing. However, when you think of it, distancing is just about separation in space. This realization immediately brings up the complementary truth: no matter how disconnected life may be in space, it is always connected in time! Our present has its roots in the past and branches out in the future.   

This year I had the opportunity to experience this truth in a very personal manner, as I got to travel to Greece, the country of my family’s heritage.

There I visited the ancestral grounds of my grandfather’s family in Mani, located in the southern Peloponnese. The family’s history seems to go far back, blending with every wave in the tumultuous history of the Mediterranean – the Byzantine era, the Crusades, the Venetian times, the Turkish expansion, the passing of Mores, the waves of pirates… And although there is no record of my family’s roots before all this, the area’s history is well documented, going back to 2,000 BC, studded with the adventures of the Spartans and the Mycenaeans, the warriors who fought the Trojan war and are memorialized in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.

And I find the same is even more true about our institutions. The functions, organizations, and interconnections of our civic society are the modern-day branches of the rituals, institutions, and relationships of the past. Here I find that the connection in time is even more decisive. While family ancestry can be loose, institutional heritage seems to have a more robust “memory,” which makes it most of the time evolutionary and, occasionally, revolutionary.

This fascination I have with seeing the yesterday in today and the classic in the modern inspires my blog. I dedicate this blog to exploring some of today’s most prominent headlines – like the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean and Europe, the crossroads of our democracy, or the differences between the West and the East – by interpreting the present through the past and bridging the necessity of history with the reality of the present and the possibility of the future. It is about culture, anthropology, history, and geography, and also about continuity, discontinuity, conflict, and reconciliation. I invite you to follow my blog and support my journey with your commentary, likes, and shares.

About the author


My name is Ian Grigorakis and I'm a sophomore at Redwood Highschool in Marin County, California. I'm interested in how the past has shaped the present and how the present foreshadows the future of civic institutions, international relations, and culture in general. I like finding the classic in the modern, and tracing the evolution of national identities.

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