The Courage to Explore

So today in the US is the day known as Columbus Day. It was named in honor of Christopher Columbus, an explorer from Italy in the late 1400’s. In recent years it’s become a bit of a different holiday because questions have been raised about what’s true and what’s not true about the stories we’ve all been told and about what kind of person Columbus was. I understand the desire in not wanting to honor someone who took people as slaves or took their gold or didn’t do what they are being honored as having done.

However, in the late 1400’s a man named Christopher Columbus did indeed take 4 sea voyages between Italy and the Caribbean with a crew of other people. While it may seem like nothing these days with our planes and cruise ships, in Columbus’ time, it was a day and age when people thought really long and hard about taking even one trip from one side of the ocean to the other, let alone 4 round trip voyages. His efforts as well as the efforts of the other explorers of his time really encouraged others to colonize North America. So if you’re really offended by calling it Columbus Day, maybe it should be Explorer’s Day, honoring all the men (and women) who were brave enough to get on boats and travel to the ends of the earth when it was so incredibly dangerous and risky.

Some people struggle with why we study history and why we need to learn all these dates and about all of these people from hundreds or thousands of years ago. They can understand a little of the application of math or science classes even with the advances of technology, but history just doesn’t make sense (after all we don’t try to paint the Sistine Chapel or build a Gothic cathedral every day). One of the biggest things we can take from history is regarding the bravery, courage, skill, expertise, and effort of countless people in helping to transform their world to the world we know today. No, they weren’t perfect, but neither are we, and we’re still trying to right wrongs and figure out how to work together in this world that we all share.

So today I encourage you to be brave like Christopher Columbus and the other explorers and go out and do some exploring as well. Explore your neighborhood, your community, your state. Explore new things with your partner and your family. Explore new hobbies and passions. Are you ready to be brave and explore?

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