Re-posted by Nicholas Stix
October 13, 2013 ·
5 Comments ·
Since Jesus, Columbus was probably the greatest man who ever lived. His vision, his strength, despite insurmountable odds, at home and abroad, stand as a testimony to the apparently unlimited capacity of the human heart for inspiration.
Of course, the liberal tradition capitalizes on condemnation and lamentation, therefore, Columbus is a major target. The entire “plight” of the Western Hemisphere is romantically (and immaturely) blamed on the adventures of Cristóbal Colón (1451-1506).
But let’s examine a few major points of interest regarding the man and his times.
1. Columbus never met an American Indian. The Taino and Carib Indians (of the islands Columbus landed on) were Arawak, from Venezuela. American Indian protest is a bit misguided, therefore. After all, it is not Arawak, Aztec, or Eskimo who are named in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States. It is the American Indian. None other.
Yes, Columbus misnamed the people he encountered. Having never traveled east, to the Orient, he had no accurate idea of the what the Hindu people looked like. He initially assumed he had landed on India’s shores.
Of course he wasn’t the first non-American Indian person to land on the American continent. Everyone’s claiming that status these days, like the Chinese, the Africans, the Muslims, etc. (Never mind the Vikings, or even the Irish!) It is a circus of historical theory at this point. What Columbus did was map out a route that could be re-traveled by others, (at least Europeans). For that, he is indeed responsible.
2. As in the case of many great men, men of galactic vision, Columbus was imprisoned by his own government. In October of 1500, nearly eight years to the day since is first Western landing, Columbus, already in chains at the end of this Third Voyage, was jailed in the southwestern Spanish port of Cádiz. He was mocked, and considered, by his own government, a tyrannist in the New World.
His physical sufferings during the Second Voyage, including everything from dysentery to gout and Reiter’s syndrome, to occasional blindness. He lay bed-fast for months, during times which should have been triumphant for him.
The natural discouragement of illness and physical misery, plus the heaven-daring irony which Castile seemed determine to inflict upon it’s greatest hero, must have been nigh unbearable. Only a giant of a man could endure such conflict, personal and physical.
3. Columbus was a deeply religious man, and took to heart the mission of his Church. Certainly there may have been other motives and purposes at work in such an enterprise as searching the globe, but, even in his very first writing (October 12, 1492) upon land fall on the island the natives (Taino) called Guanahani, Columbus wrote of their docile character (from his perspective), and of their likelihood of becoming Christian:
It appears to me, that the people are ingenious, and would be good servants and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion. They very quickly learn such words as are spoken to them. If it please our Lord, I intend at my return to carry home six of them to your Highnesses, that they may learn our language.
It would be difficult to make the case that the English pilgrims of 1620 came to America for such a purpose, or even that had such a mission foremost on their minds, although evangelism quickly became an integral part of the English colonies. Obviously. There were Indians everywhere.
The point is, again, Columbus had no encounter with American Indians. He encountered a few South American Indian tribes, none of which fought European powers like the American Indian did, none of which earned a place in the constitutions of South or Central American Spanish colonies, or later independent countries. This is profoundly significant, historically. No other indigenous people of the Americas shares any such honor as the American Indian when it comes to their encounter with the European history in the Western Hemisphere.
The personal greatness, the personal grandeur, the personal character of Christopher Columbus is independent of historical theory. The man man was great, and there is none like him, and few even in his class. He is the Pelé of the bravest explorers, the Beethoven of composers, the Rubinstein of pianists.
Such greatest always attracts the worst condemnations conceivable. Envy swarms the grand. Interestingly, however, sometimes, greatest is so great that even when an enemy tells the story, the greatest cannot be hid. It is in the architecture, yea, the foundations, of the man. Kirkpatrick Sale, a liberal, and founder of the New York Green Party, has written by far, indeed, the best account of Columbus for modern readers: The Conquest of Paradise (Knopf, 1991), published the year before the 500 year anniversary of the Columbus land fall on Guanahani. Sale’s research is stunning in detail, and, frankly, the work is honest, balanced, and a bit frightful. Columbus was a genius, no question. Such men are intimidating, generally, and evoke the strongest opposition, especially when ensconced in global politics.
Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827.
Certainly, where there is greatest, there is great error. Of that there can be no doubt. However, error is no special distinction or fault. It can scarcely be avoided. It is the human experience. Progress, in any field, costs. Sacrifice is demanded, and only men of great strength can ever hope to accomplish anything great, errors be what they may.
Can we say, Remember Jesus? Condemned by his own government, His spiritual revolution cost His life, by horrible execution. We could say, Beware greatness.
And it’s true for a country, as well as for an individual. Sacrifice is the cost of greatness. Let us spend wisely, else blood is amiss, and waste is dominant. We need great men, not pretenders.
Posted by David Yeagley · October 13, 2013 · 10:27 am CT ·