October 11th, 2010

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Monday Update 10-11-10

These are some posts from the later part of last week, in case you missed them:

The Gender of Apologies
Blogging: What Not To Do
10 Things in Your Habitat
Pears Are Ripening
How to Customize Monsters
Science and Poetry
Poetry Fishbowl Report from Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Musical Instruments of Torn World
The Culture of Authorship

This month's Poetry Fishbowl went pretty well. Click the report for links to the posted poems, a list of unsold poems, and other goodies.

Two epics are currently open for sponsorship. "RUT?" is about an old man rediscovering his old cell phone.  It has 6 new verses up, courtesy of a donation this week.  "A Periodic Table of Elementals" is still ahead of production by one verse.
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Speak of the Day

According to the American calendar, today is Columbus Day.

In Spain, it is Dia de la Hispanidad. (En Español.)

In the rest of Spanish-speaking America it is Dia de la Raza.

For the Native Americans, it marks the beginning of the American invasion and a long campaign of genocide which has yet to quit smouldering.

To be a historian is to be a connosieur of atrocities, especially if you read source documents and/or materials written by the oppressed, which are much more enlightening than history books written by the winners. To be a scholar of cultures is to see the world always through multiple lenses, merging the images in mind to create a more complex and dimensional representation of what was, what is, and what could be. To be an American is often to be the offspring of multiple lines, which if you trace back, leaves you straddled across a war zone with assorted ancestors maiming, killing, raping, and plundering each other. And there you are, looking at the smoking mess and wondering where you stand.

Where you stand is up to you. All your ancestors did was get you here; where you go is your choice. Who you honor and how you do so is your choice. What you praise and what you condemn is your choice. What you study, understand, sympathize with -- your choice. What you emulate or avoid -- your choice.

I can admire the sense of adventure and exploration that inspired Columbus.  I don't have a problem with his desire to turn a profit, per se.  However, I don't consider it okay to murder people because you want their land, take their stuff because that's easier than producing your own, and rape them because you can't be bothered to court a sexual partner properly.  Such is the stuff of evil.  Might does not make right; it just makes oppression and genocide possible. 

It's awkward to look back and realize that you personally benefit in some ways from past (and present) atrocities -- and that you are inconvenienced by them in other ways.  Just because I happen to share some European heritage with Columbus doesn't mean I have to agree with what he did, or consider him a hero.  He was an assertive, enterprising fellow with enough determination to cross an ocean (however inaccurately) in a rather dippy little ship.  He wanted what he wanted, he felt that what he did was justified, and he didn't mind if other people got hurt in the process; that's not heroic, it's ordinary.  He was neither a pure hero nor a pure villain, just a guy.  The more we remember that, and consider the complexities of both his personality and his culture, the better we can learn how not to do this again.

Not doing this again is what I'd consider worthy of celebration. Invasion and genocide are bad ideas. There are more humane ways to get your needs met. Find some. That will be a discovery worth making.