Happy Columbus Day! Did you hear that said earlier this week? Probably not. It seems people are now afraid to even acknowledge it as a holiday at all. Now many want to change it to Indigenous Peoples day. The argument is Columbus should not be honored at all because of the effect his coming had on the Native Americans. The debate continues.
There is no doubt that Christopher Columbus was not a perfect man. While he probably had some good intentions in his explorations, he was also motivated by greed and fame. And while befriending some of the natives, he would also take part in enslaving and persecuting many of the native people as well. So does this mean we should change it to Indigenous Peoples Day?
I have a question for those who want to change the holiday. Which indigenous people are we honoring? There were many different native tribes with many different traditions that were spread out in the area. Not only that, but many of those tribes hated and enslaved each other.
When Columbus and his crew arrived in the Caribbean he would befriend the Taino tribe. The Tainos were actually eager to ally with the new comers because they wanted extra protection from the Caribs. There were stories from many tribes in that area that the Caribs were a vicious people who were also cannibals that would eat their enemies. While there is some debate with historians on whether they were actually cannibals, there seems to be no dispute on the fact that the Caribs were brutal warriors.
This is somewhat similar to what the Pilgrims would find when they landed at Plymouth. Have you ever wondered why the Native Americans helped the Pilgrims? The Wampanoag made a treaty with the Pilgrims not just out of the goodness of their hearts, but because they wanted extra protection against some of the other tribes they didn’t get along with. Yes believe it or not the Native Americans were not perfect either. They did not all live peacefully with each other and no they didn’t create some utopia without war, violence, slavery, greed, and racism.
I’m not saying all this to blast the native people. They obviously had some many great qualities as well. Many of the tribes were also instrumental in helping the colonists survive the new lands and it is a sad point in history that many of them were wiped out (mostly by disease). My point is the problems people have with the colonialists like Columbus were not secluded to Western Civilization, but were problems that existed across ALL civilizations. Greed, anger, racism, hatred, wars, murder, and so forth are all problems with humanity as a whole.
The human heart can be a source of great good but also a source of great evil. The Bible talks about this constantly.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. – 1 John 8-10
9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:“There is no one righteous, not even one;11 there is no one who understands there is no one who seeks God.12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways,17 and the way of peace they do not know.”18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:9-18
This is why Christians like me spread the message of the gospel, because we admit our sins and realize our souls need a savior.
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. – Romans 3-21-16
I am all for revealing the entire history of Columbus and his exploration of America, but if we are going to be honest about history we need to be honest about the entire history of the times and of mankind in general. We also need to be honest about the good that also came from Columbus’s discovery. Western civilization has brought the world and America many great things that should be praised. While Columbus was far from perfect we should still remember his great accomplishments.