Sunday, February 07, 2010

Traveling the World

World Book style.

I overheard a conversation yesterday, in which my brother was informed tomorrow would be Columbus Day; to which the other person informed him that Columbus Day was not February 8th, but was in fact in October, the month Columbus struck land, San Salvador, a little island off the coast of Cuba.

Well...I forgot about this correction of dates and was pleasantly surprised when this morning, the encyclopedia I was holding in search of the color wheel, fell open to Christopher Columbus. "How appropriate", I thought to myself, "with Columbus Day just around the corner."

Thus, I refreshed my memory in honor of February 8th: Non-Columbus-Columbus Day.
I read about Columbus' Italian birth, his young love and loss, his 4 voyages, in which he only touched, very briefly, what could be considered North American soil, (Costa Rica), once.

Most of his explorations were contained in Hispaniola. We give him a lot of credit, but his vision seems so limited from the account I read this morning. He continued to return to and work to redeem his original discovery which did not produce the kinds of results anyone had hoped for.

Myth Busters: Most of the world did not believe the world was flat at the time of Columbus' voyage and Columbus did not intentionally bring diseases to the people of Hispaniola (i.e. nasty blankets). He did enslave the people, make them mine for gold, and punish them if they failed to meet their quotas. A bit of a power trip?

The positive note:
He ended centuries of ignorance about what lay on the other side of the Atlantic, and his discovery led to trade with Native American peoples who taught the ancestors of our future founding fathers the love of freedom and shared leadership. So in an indirect way, Columbus led the way to democracy and freedom, even though his personal choice did not reflect such values. This is most likely how he ended up being mentioned in the Book of Mormon (1 Ne. 13:12) and why we of the LDS faith, consider him to have played an integral part in the restoration of Christ's gospel.

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