Category Archives: quotes

What of Columbus?

Of late there are many sources claiming Christopher Columbus was unworthy of a federal holiday a despicable rascal. See this “article” on the oatmeal  and this one on vox.com. I saw the oatmeal article last year. A friend who is a teacher shared it with me. The following is what I shared with her, and now with anyone open minded enough to not jump on the revisionist bandwagon without long contemplation and deep investigation.

Vicki Jo Anderson, while researching many historical figures over the course of several years, discovered that

“history written prior to 1920 was often written of great men and women who performed great deeds. After 1920, history has highlighted the miseries of men…. Dean Belnap once stated: ‘Young people of our generation have been deprived of their birthright, which is to be conscious that they are the children of a high destiny in the line of great men who performed great deeds.’ One cannot appreciate the future unless there is an understanding of the past. It is the intent of [the book she was doing the research for] to illustrate from the lives of these eminent men, that one individual can make a difference.”

Of Columbus, Anderson writes:

“Disheartened with the greed and lust that were wreaking havoc in the newly discovered land, in 1496 he wrote to the king and queen, begging that the same laws existing in Spain be applied to the islands, and that all people–including the Indians–have the same justice.
He wrote: ‘Procure for the Indians, that are coming under our rule, the same rules and protections as those we have been speaking of [here in Spain]. These rules are to apply to those in power and those not in power equally. I want them to have the same protection like I have as if they were my own flesh.’ In 1497, he pleaded again:
‘I worry immensely about the future. I do not know what will happen in years to come. But we will discover new lands and we will negotiate in some of them according to the law of Castile and if this is not ruled by a strong hand then we will lose and rip apart our future and we will lose everything. I am afraid we will be misunderstood. I tell you to do it this way because gold is not everything.’”

Her source for the Columbus quotes is:

Columbus, Christopher. Letters to King Ferdinand & Queen Isabel 1496 Raccolta Collection. Raccolta di Documenti e Studi Pubblicati dalla R. Commissione Colombiana, pel Quarto Centenario dalla Scoperta dell’ America, Appendix Roma 1894, p. 270.

I am not saying by this that he never did anything bad, just that he may not have been as bad as recent history writers make him out to be.

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Doubt vs Faith

“Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith” – Deiter F. Uchtdorf

Ode to Water

I learned of this article discussing the push by Nestlé executives to privatize water from a Facebook share, on which I commented:

The filter between my brain and mouth, or fingers, won’t let me say the crass words that may come to mind were I to let emotions rule. And by the time I have time to write more powerfully about it, this article will have from my newsfeed passed, so let me just say that the glass is half full for those who respect their Mother, and refer you to a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that I call his “Ode to Water”. Unfortunately I don’t have it on hand, so I’ll have to add it after I go home and have a glass of wasser. I had to comment now so as to not let the opportunity pass to share Antoine’s words: they, unlike the Nestlé execs, are filled with class.

So now, the quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which I call “Ode to Water”.  From his book “Wind, Sand and Stars“, the chapter titled “Prisoner of the Sand”, translated by Lewis Galantière:

Water, thou hast no taste, no color, no odor; canst not be defined, art relished while ever mysterious.  Not necessary to life, but rather life itself, thou fillest us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses.  By thy might, there return into us treasures that we had abandoned.  By thy grace, there are released in us all the dried-up runnels of our heart. Of the riches that exist in the world, thou art the rarest and also the most delicate—thou so pure within the bowels of the earth!  A man may die of thirst lying beside a magnesian spring.  He may die within reach of a salt lake.  He may die though he hold in his hand a jug of dew, if it be inhabited by evil salts.  For thou, water, art a proud divinity, allowing no alteration, no foreignness in thy being.  And the joy that thou spreadest is an infinitely simple joy.

“But of bliss and glad life…”

Last night I was pondering recent happenings in my life, which included what could have been déjà vu if only it weren’t clearly a separate and distinct occurrence.  I came to a conclusion that should be fairly obvious, but it took two data points, and several years transpired before I acquired the second.  When I am passing by or walking away from someone, feeling hurt or slighted but doing my best to bury the pain, and in my mind I tell them where they can go or I visualize the synapses of my brain firing such that all my phalanges form a fist but for one finger, it is a sure sign that my relationship with that person, whatever that relationship may be, is in peril.  And thus applies this quote:

“But of bliss and glad life there is little to be said, before it ends; as works fair and wonderful, while still they endure for eyes to see, are their own record, and only when they are in peril or broken for ever do they pass into song.” – JRR Tolkien, The Silmarillion

Which is great from the perspective of me being able to write some potentially great poetry.  But if I could choose between the relationship being “in peril or broken forever” versus never writing a good poem about that relationship or that person, I’d choose the latter.

A corollary to this conclusion is that at such times, I should probably just let myself feel the pain and stop trying to numb it by the commands I mentally issue to the other person.  Otherwise I start a downward spiral that, if not quickly corrected, spills over into other relationships.

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“A man who lose…

“A man who loses his privacy loses everything. And a man who gives it up of his own free will is a monster.”

― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being