Colombo

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October 9, 2017, Prescott-

Synchronicity leads to triage.  A meeting that I cannot miss, tomorrow night, has delayed my brief jaunt over to Gila Cliff Dwellings, until Wednesday morning.  This will be just fine, though it takes me away from other meetings, Wednesday and Thursday nights.  As long as I’m back, to take care of a key task on Friday, it’s all good.  Besides, driving down and over to Superior on Tuesday night, after the gathering, will be easy enough.

Now then:  Today is celebrated by those of  Italian descent, across the United States, as Columbus Day..  Others among our countrymen point out that Columbus’ track record, with regard to the Indigenous people of the Caribbean Basin and Rim, was hardly deserving of special honours.

A contemporary of Columbus, Bartolomeo de las Casas, himself a defender of indigenous peoples’ rights, says of the Admiral :  He was “more than middling tall; face long and giving an air of authority; aquiline nose, blue eyes, complexion light and tending to bright red, beard and hair red when young but very soon turned gray from his labors; he was affable and cheerful in speaking […] A forgiver of injuries, [he] wished nothing more than that those who offended against him should recognize their errors, and that the delinquents be reconciled with him.”

Columbus did concur with slaughtering cannibals, among the Caribs of Dominica, after seeing graphic evidence of their torture of both Taino and Spaniard.  He reported, but did not practice, the sexual enslavement of young Taino girls.  For this last, and other “crimes against the Spanish”, his opponents, Bobadilla and Roldan, sought Columbus’ removal. Although Roldan later reconciled with Columbus, Bobadilla persisted, and eventually saw to the Admiral’s removal and imprisonment.  Much of the present-day condemnation of Christopher Columbus comes from “evidence” cited  by Bobadilla, who was himself a severe persecutor of indigenous people, though his own rule over Santo Domingo proved ineffective and was, therefore, very brief.

Having said this, I am not sure what merit Columbus has, for the honours heaped upon him, as “discoverer of America”.  He never set foot on American soil, other than Puerto Rico, which has its own history and sovereignty, separate from that of the United States of America.  He was, by his own admission, not the first European to set foot in North America (having visited Iceland and heard the descriptions of “Vinland”, from that country’s residents).

Like many of our holidays, Columbus Day has become about us. In this case, it has become about proud Italian-Americans  marching in parades and honouring their rich heritage.  That heritage includes, among other things, the fact that our hemisphere’s two continents are named for one of Columbus’s contemporaries:  Amerigo Vespucci, a cartographer.  Columbus himself is honoured, decently enough, by places being named for him, from the capitals and largest cities of Ohio and South Carolina, to Canada’s westernmost province (albeit by way of Lewis and Clark having named the Columbia River after him).

People change at a glacial pace, so I expect Columbus Day, and the parades, will be around for some years yet.  It doesn’t much matter, here in Arizona, save for the banks and post offices being closed.  We tend to pay more mind to those important to this area’s heritage.  So, by and large, the sensibilities of Native Americans loom larger, and Columbus is more a figure of curiosity and of academic study.

Double Tenth

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October 10, 2016, Chula Vista-   Today is the National Day of Taiwan, established by Chiang Kai-shek, when he set up the Republic of China, on the island where he and his forces found refuge, in 1949.  “Double Tenth” is viewed as an auspicious day, good for the fortunes of the Chinese people.  Certainly, the industry and fastidiousness that the Chinese, individually and collectively, demonstrate- wherever they may be in this world, have made both Taiwan and the Chinese mainland models of commercial success, while remaining true to a deeper spiritual sense- even as the “gods” of commercialism and ideology have taken their toll.

Here in North America, some, primarily those in government and the financial sector, observe Columbus Day.  I have come to see this as ludicrous.  Other than a nice day to honour those of Italian descent, with parades and some fine cuisine, celebrating the arrival of three shiploads of people, who were bent on exploiting the resources of India, and instead found themselves on one of the minor isles of the Bahamian Archipelago, is little more than a ruse.

Nevertheless, I am feeling good today,  in this town that is one of the outgrowths of the Spanish colonization, that itself transpired from the Colombian Expeditions.  I am glad, in a sense, that Europeans and indigenous North Americans figure in my ancestry, although the way in which many of the former treated the latter was, to say the least, despicable.

This leads me to a remark made by a Native friend from Texas, on the occasion of my arrival here, a few days ago.  She expressed the wish that I would go to Standing Rock, North Dakota, and be there with our Lakota brothers and sisters.  My heart is there, certainly, as it is with all who suffer, as it is with those in the southeast, the Caribbean, and anywhere in the world, where people are going through the savagery inflicted by Man and Nature.

My soul compels me to stand by my offspring, and be here for him, in the few days available.  Soon enough, I will be back in Prescott, attending planning meetings, a drum circle, a Home Fire Safety event, and hiking another section of Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, before returning to work, a week from today.  Soon enough, my son will back on his own two feet and at his post on the USS Wayne E.Meyer.   Soon enough, the people of Standing Rock will be vindicated, and will realize the return of peace to their land- as will we all.

Stay firm, in the face of whatever tests and difficulties come your way.  You are all loved and cherished.