Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Legacy Of Columbus

This week we celebrate Columbus Day. We celebrate the bravery of a man and his crew who, centuries ago, sailed across the Atlantic to "discover" a new land and the people thereon. In recent years this day has become less of a celebration than it used to be. In fact, it has even become grounds for protest by those who feel that the arrival of Europeans on American soil resulted in the ultimate downfall of the people who already lived here. There is no doubt that the Native Americans, Indians, or whatever you choose to call them suffered greatly at the hands of the Europeans. They were subjugated, in some cases killed, and in most cases eventually driven from the land they had inhabited for who knows how long before 1492 and forced to live on "reservations" as second- or third-class citizens of the land they originally inhabited. All because they looked, behaved, lived and worshipped differently than the newly-arrived Europeans. They were "savages" and "pagans" in the eyes of the newcomers. They had to be "civilized" and "christianized". Even though many of them were peaceful, many died at the hands of the "invaders" or from new diseases brought by the "invaders" that they had no immunity from. So there is reason to look negatively upon Columbus and the other early European settlers of this country.
But that does not make them any less great. It took a great deal of bravery to leave one's home and sail for weeks across a sea to face a difficult and uncertain future in a new land. As far as their handling of the native people of America is concerned, they didn't know any better. They believed (as some people still do now) that they had to bring Christianty whereever they went. They believed that, because of how the natives lived, that they were inferior and possibly dangerous, so they had to be "controlled" or "civilized" The knew nothing of the diseases they carried to those who had no immunity to them.
So, looking back, yes, you can say that the entire situation was handed wrongly. But as Jesus said" forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do" One cannot go back in time and change things. So let us honor the bravery and greatness of Columbus and others like him, but at the same time, we should perhaps mourn the downfall of the societies and civilizations of the original inhabitants of this continent.

So Sayeth The Shack

1 comment:

Jeni said...

Very true, John.