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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Brian Sloan on October 12, 2014

Christopher Columbus

Columbus was not a great man. Christopher Columbus was a great fool.

Columbus dared to do something no one else in his time did: traveling to India. He got funding from the Spanish monarchs of the time, Ferdinand II and Isabella, to undertake a journey no one else thought was possible. Mostly because it, in essence, was. You see, Columbus only dared to undertake his journey because he was bad at math. He miss-estimated the distance needed to travel to India and as such, thought that it was a reasonably possible journey. In fact, if he hadn't bumped into the Americas, he and his entire crew would have died long before they reached India. Stay in school, kids.

Columbus also brought the Spanish monks to the New World. Brought conquerors to devastate the local populations and enslave the Aztecs, Incas, Mayans, and other ethnic tribes. But here's the dirty little secret: eventually, someone else would have attempted the journey, either due to more bad math or improvements in sailing, and would have succeeded. And the same enslavement and subjugation of the population would have ensued. Maybe the flavors would be different. Maybe the language would be different. But the same relative outcome would occur: absolute domination of the local population by the ruling powers in Europe. It was en vogue at the time, especially in Africa, and by all the major nations. So similar atrocities would have still been committed, even if only in another language.

But the celebration of Columbus Day is not something to shy away from. It's not a celebration of the man, but of the founding of the New World. Of the spirit of exploration. Of the fact that sometimes mistakes provide the biggest steps forward in human understanding. It's a reminder to keep striving for your dreams and push for what you believe in because sometimes dedication is just as important as intelligence.

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