|"Dignity" Chamberlain, SD|
The more we learn of Columbus, the more we see the cruelty and violence that he brought with him--the enslavement, raping, and pillaging. All true and reprehensible to us 500 years later.
|"Christopher Columbus" Providence, RI|
The native people had been living on the lands we call America for centuries when this band of Europeans and those who followed them (or preceded--consider Leif Erikson) came with a belief that it was their God-given right to conquer and take what they found.
Today we are quick to label and condemn those years ago who did not live up to our current moral principles. I sometimes wish I could jump into a time machine just to see what behaviors we accept today as normal, even honorable, that would be condemned by future societies. What if, for example, it were discovered that our great feat of landing a man on the moon had somehow disturbed the cosmos in ways we cannot imagine today? Wouldn't the people of the future be quick to castigate us?
Columbus, like all humans, was complicated. He was motivated by ego and greed, and his actions towards the natives were inexcusable to us. But he was also brave and determined, and led the way for a greater and greater understanding of the planet we share.
Ironically we are also only beginning to discover lessons the indigenous understood--the importance of sharing the earth and protecting it for future generations. These lessons are
critical to our very survival.
Maybe we should rename the October holiday Discovery Day in which we celebrate what we continue to learn about the Earth and all its people.