Monday, October 11, 2021

Monday Morning Blues: Why Do We Still Celebrate Christopher Columbus???

The Age of Discovery, 1300-1600
A map of trade routes used from 1300 to 1600

 I'm serious.  I mean, the man was completely mistaken about where he was, and he refused to believe otherwise.  Columbus' travels resulted in the enslavement of several groups of people, and the extinction of more than one civilization.  Plus, he was not the first person to discover the "New World"; the Vikings landed here centuries earlier.  And the Vikings were not the first people over here either.

Viking Ship
A modern replica of a Viking ship. This ship is of the snekkja longship type.
Attribution: archiwum własne wikingów, Jarmeryk

But the alternative of calling today "Indigenous Peoples' Day"?

That feels... like not enough.  Hundreds of thousands of people died because of the arrival of the European invaders.  The number is too large to truly comprehend.  So semi-dedicating a single day to recognize them feels like a token, a gesture offered to history that still rejects any hint of responsibility.

Now I realize that no one alive today is responsible for the massacre that happened centuries ago. But we are responsible for how we treat people today.  

So maybe we do need this holiday, as a reminder that we are responsible for our behavior.  When a hurricane hits an impoverished area, regardless of which countries are involved, do you help out in whatever reasonable ways you can or do you gloat that it wasn't you?  Do you even care if it doesn't effect you directly? 

Do you treat others with respect and kindness?  Notice that there are no stipulations to that question. Skin color, spiritual beliefs, sexual preference, biology... none of this matters.  Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and kindness.  So do you act that way?  

Or do you expect people to treat you with respect first, before you will treat them that way?  If everyone waits for the other person to act nice, when will anyone act nice?

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