As Coolidge reminds us, the first bold step taken into the dark unknown by Christopher Columbus furnished the opportunity, for the first time, to build a society on the ideals of self-government, freedom of opportunity, and liberty of conscience. Finally these ideals could form the foundation of human civilization not as afterthoughts bestowed by monarchical generosity to be given or taken with the passing of one occupant to the next. Nor was this a reaffirmation of the predetermined life each individual was to fulfill on the basis of utility or importance in the views of the central authorities.
Rather, America aspired to something greater, knowing the work of living up to those ideals never reaches complete perfection. Each generation, with the rights and responsibilities of being free and the essential virtues to maintain that freedom, was expected to redeem the time each one is given by God and leave for those who came after them the precious heritage of freedom intact, respecting the immense work and enormous toil of countless individuals involved in its creation and perpetuation. Columbus’ discovery of America allows us the luxury of celebrating this day at all, however we wish to honor it, when we could be scrounging for the barest scraps along any one of the crowded slums of Europe, or stuck in our family’s meanest class in Asia, or armed with only a spear and our wits for our daily food in Africa, battling just to stay alive. The indigenous peoples of the Americas would mean nothing to us at all without Columbus first finding the New World followed by generations of conscientious, freedom-loving people with the Christian concern for humanity that built our civilization from ideals.
America gives us an immeasurable opportunity to serve others and promote the good, right, and beautiful in this world. Contempt for it and the desire to see it disappear is nothing but a betrayal of what millions of all nationalities have given from all they had in worldly goods, talents, sacred honor, and even their lives to establish and strengthen it. Happy Columbus Day, America!
Few individuals in Western civilization have undergone as pervasive a demonization as Christopher Columbus. He has been designated the “poster boy” of all that is wrong with the West, in general, and America, in particular. He is blamed for Western racism and slavery (as if those policies are unique to dead white Europeans) because of his enslavement of the indigenous population, despite discovering a New World that would establish freedom as the governing ideal of human existence. He is blamed for Western Christendom because of his conversion of the natives, despite taking the first step toward what would become a haven of religious liberty and freedom of conscience in America. He is blamed for Western imperialism because of his accidental destruction (by an uncontrollable lack of immunity) of the various cultures with which he came in contact, despite introducing a New World that would form the greatest melting pot of…
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