As a young child growing up in the late 1960’s I was caught up with discovery and exploration. It was an exciting time to watch rockets lifting off, men walking on the moon or bouncing around in the moon-buggy, and even seeing a ship flying across the night sky over my hometown, Elwood, Indiana. For me, it was not necessarily about the scientific mission to the moon but more the excitement of going places.
In school, we celebrated another feat of exploration: Columbus Day.
We watched movies on Christopher Columbus, learned about the man, the countries of Italy and Spain, and sang songs about the Nina, Pinta and Santa Marie. We never heard the tales of genocide, slavery, and other barbarous accounts. In fact, it was not until 1992, the 500th anniversary of this poignant discovery that I even knew of any discontent, and protestations of the discoverer. I paid little heed to the opposition, and actually, did not participate in any celebration of Columbus Day that year except, perhaps, driving to the Dayton Mall for a JCPenney Columbus Day Sale.
Today, I am becoming acutely reminded by Facebook posts that we should not celebrate Columbus Day. Some Facebook friends have even taken offense (some more kindly than others) that I would dare post a link from Belief Net celebrating inspiring Columbus Day quotes about Self-Discovery & Exploration. Two ladies took me to task in private emails that I am
being inconsiderate of my Navajo son’s heritage. I only posted the You Tube video, PLEASE, MR. COLUMBUS: just to toss that canister of Morton’s their way.
Because I am not posting anti-Columbus Day rhetoric I am being insensitive to my Native American child? I believe that my Facebook posts – even before adopting my son – offered numerous items regarding my love for Native American culture, and heritage. Having adopted a Navajo son has made this interest all the more exciting to explore, and share.
One lady accused me of being weak-minded because I would not post anti-Columbus Day items to my Facebook page. “You are being cowardly and week [weak] minded when you do not stand up for something that injures your children.” I assured her that I was not being weak-minded, nor cowardly. but rather, electing which hills upon which I should take a stand. I also reminded both ladies that they had clearly stepped over a line with me, and one more note from them would result in me posting their letters in my blog for all to see. Both women consider themselves to be pillars of their churches, and vibrant school supporters, and their language applied towards me in their notes would have greatly embarrassed them.
For many years I have elected to be a visionary rather than an apologist. If I were to oppose Columbus Day, something for which I care very little in the first place, I would also feel the urge to oppose President’s Day: we had presidents who were slave owners, presidents under whose administrations Native Americans were treated brutally, and killed, presidents who ordered military action against countries who did not attack us first or offered no true threat to us (Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc.). And what about Christmas and Easter? How could we celebrate these particular Christian holiday when remembering The Crusades and other violations throughout it’s 2000 year history? As for now, I prefer to celebrate The Presidency and US History, and I love giving presents, and filling Easter egg baskets for my sons.
The only holiday that does bug me is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Why? Personally, I feel it should be Civil Rights Day to honor the two hundred-plus years of countless individuals who fought for Civil Rights throughout our country’s history. If there were organized committees who wished to over-turn the current title of this particular holiday, I doubt I would join the cause because to me, personally, it doesn’t matter that much.
Am I being weak-minded? Nope. There are other matters to which I would like to direct my interests, and my energy.
This particular Monday is not about me celebrating a man known to us as Christopher Columbus. It is about me celebrating the fact that I am very open to the continuity of self-discovery, self exploration. The voyage upon which I am embarked is one of great joy, enthusiasm, and so many other things. In many South American countries, today is called “Discovery Day.” I am still discovering, and delight in the fact that I still have the love for learning, and growing, that was so alive when I was five years old and watching man walk on the moon for the first time.
After 42 years, I am still going places!