Once upon a time, Columbus Day was a national holiday and school children would celebrate the discovery of America. Of course they also celebrated Christmas instead of Winter Break and Easter instead of Spring Break.
But more important than the discovery of America is the discovery of the following important facts:
- That Columbus didn’t really discover America. It had already been discovered by Leif Ericson or Leif the Red or a bunch of Asians who walked across the ice from Russia to Alaska.
- That Columbus never actually made it to America, but only to several of the islands in the Caribbean, so he only discovered islands, not a continent.
- That Columbus never discovered anything, but instead thought he was in India, which was why the indigenous people were referred to as Indians.
- America was named after Amerigo Vespucci, a mapmaker who supposedly put his name in that big blank spot west of the Atlantic – proof that Columbus’ role was unimportant.
- Columbus paved the way for evil Europeans to bring warfare and disease to the Native Americans (we dare not call them Indians, although without Vespucci we couldn’t call them Native Americans.)
And while we’re at it…
- Edison didn’t invent the electric light bulb.
- Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile.
- Marconi didn’t invent the wireless (radio).
And we wonder why the world is in the shape it’s in.
So, I ask you to consider the following:
- If Columbus hadn’t sailed west, you and I would probably be some peasant stock in Europe or Asia under some type of monarchy. If America hadn’t broken the mold, there’s no reason to believe that those born into royalty would have given up their power and prestige. Even after sending the royalty to the guillotine, the French managed to eke out an emperor or two. The Tsar ruled Russia until the Bolshevik revolution, the Shah didn’t let go until Jimmy Carter was president. Then there’s King Juan Carlos of Spain, Queen Elizabeth in Great Britain and of course Brad and Angelina of California.
- The value of an invention is not necessarily thinking of the idea first or even being the first to make it work. The value is in making its benefit available to others.
- It was because of Edison, that electric lights became the norm (even though it was Westinghouse’s power distribution system that made it work.)
- Ford invented a way to make cars inexpensive enough for people to be able to afford. He even paid his workers a seemingly “obscene” wage so that Ford employees would have enough money to purchase Ford Automobiles.
- Marconi Wireless created the interest and expectation that communications could occur instantly from virtually anywhere to virtually anywhere including to and from ships at sea.
So to those who are down on the explorers and inventors, take comfort in the words of that great American philosopher, George Carlin, who said, “Remember, inside every silver lining – there’s a dark cloud!”