Monday, October 8, 2012

The Age of Discovery

Since I got up this morning, listening to the news, and reading the paper over people’s shoulders on the train, I've heard very little mention about it being Columbus Day. It’s almost as if the whole concept of the holiday has been swept away. I find that a bit distressing.

I know there are some people that think Christopher Columbus was responsible for the decimation of the Indigenous population of the early Americas and open the flood gates for plunderers. I've heard some people refer to Columbus as an evil figure in history; a selfish profiteer only out to serve his own greedy interests. In some respects I don’t necessarily disagree, but he certainly wasn't a monster.

Christopher Columbus, like all historical figures, was a man, with all the flaws and foibles of any other person on Earth. His myth eventually grew larger than himself and most people only remembered the myth, however, in recent years (maybe the last 20) a new, realistic portrait of Christopher emerged. With that newer portrait his “discovery” of the new world came under some scrutiny. However, I don’t think we should use that portrait to discredit what Christopher Columbus actually did for the future and the burgeoning Age of Discovery.

Ponce De Leon, Vasco Da Gamma, Ferdinand Magellan, and Christopher Columbus were all part of the exploring for profit fraternity of the age of discovery. Just because they were looking for a little something, something doesn't and shouldn't diminish their adventurous exploits and discoveries. I think that to forget these men and their accomplishments is a detriment to the history of exploration the human race has always pursued.

Christopher Columbus may not have been the first European to reach the Americas, but it was because of him that lasting communication between Europe and the Americas was established. And I think this is what matters over all. It must have been extremely exciting to the population back then to discover that the world they thought they knew was now forever fundamentally changed and there was no going back.

It’s important to be reminded that the exploration of the new world brought people great pride and nurtured a quest for new knowledge and experience. It promoted a release from The Dark Ages and encouraged the Renaissance and a return to the exploration of the human condition. I just don’t want this to be forgotten or swept under the rug like it was ancient history without any bearing on the world today.

We are still exploring, right now there’s a machine on Mars, there’s undersea exploration taking place, parts of world are still being discover that were previously lost to time and it’s all due to our continuing quest to know more about the world and ultimately ourselves.

It is in that vein that I can say that I am entering into a new phase of personal discovery. As my loyal readers know I have bemoaned excessively about my job. Well, as of next week I will have a new job, with a new company and it’s very exciting. It’ll be a new experience for me after seven long years with one company so I think it’s only appropriate that I start in October with a certain excitement for the undiscovered country of personal development.

I will likely not be remembered in history for simply finding new employment, but it will provide me with the spark of new beginnings, something lacking for so very long. 

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