October 14, 2011

October 12th: A Time for Celebration or Mourning?

Every year the same. October 12th arrives and people all over the world either rejoice or grieve with mixed feelings of remembrance. So who celebrates and who mourns? And most importantly why? The fact is on this very same day a little over 500 years ago, a discovery so significant in nature was to be made which would shape the course of history in the most unimaginable ways.

When the world as we knew it learned of the existence of the "New World", there must have been great cause for celebration. Consider the times. Following one of the darkest periods humankind had ever seen, in every sense of the word, the discovery of vast new exotic lands filled with hope, opportunity and untapped natural (and human) resources could not but have been embraced by most.

No doubt many profited from such discovery but as things are seldom black and white, not all parties involved were equally benefitted or had reason to rejoice. In fact, this was neither the first nor the last instance of one civilization prospering at the great cost of another's downfall.

I was born precisely on the very island where Christopher Columbus decided to build the first city in the New World. To be more exact, I was born right in this very same city. I'm of Spanish, Italian and Scottish descent as far as I can trace back, but if we look deeper, I'm sure to have some African and native Taino blood in me as well. So this is not a simple case of your people vs. my people. The way I see it, it's a matter of solidarity with those who were less fortunate. From one human being to another. In the same way one might mourn for the victims of the Holocaust or September 11, we must not forget the atrocities committed against the original inhabitants of America in the name of God, progress and in pursuit of gold. We must learn to accept, move on and even forgive but never forget.

That said.. For one to go as far as accusing a Spanish person today of having stolen all of 'their' gold and precious resources and to have enslaved, raped and killed most of their indigenous people would be a bit unfair, as it would be to condemn entire nations for the actions of a few greedy individuals.

So the next time October 12th comes around, whether you choose to celebrate, mourn or do both is entirely up to you but keep in mind whatever your point of view, you are likely to find someone who feels the opposite way. Make it a point to understand where the other person is coming from or at the very least, show a little respect.


  1. That's just it... Accept, forgive, move on, but never forget that it was mainly Africa with its slave labor
    and America with its vast natural resources that financed the Industrial Revolution which resulted in
    the immense fortunes that brought about Europe's current welfare and that of its modern enclaves (USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc..), characterizing today's poorer South and increasingly rich North... Our backwardness is not due solely to the fact that we are "less intelligent, civilized and hard-working" than in other parts of the world... 500 years is not are sufficient to overcome the indelible mark of plunder and genocide which we were subjected to. And we still continue to be victims of looting...

  2. I celebrated the day by walking into someone's house and telling them that I'm going to live there now.

  3. Certainly something which has been done in the past and continues to be done successfully nowadays. How did that work out for you?

  4. The fact is that the mankind has migrated from one place to the other since its existence, and this is the origin of fights, death and even the extermination of entire civilizations.

    If you take the spanish penninsula as an example, first the roman empire invaded and slaved the original tribes, then the goths and other barbarians stormed into it, after the arabians invaded again with a big bloodshed and human losses...

    And the mankind will keep migrating, regardless of the borders and barriers we try to put.

    I fully agree this should never happen again, so for me we should wether celebrate nor mourn. its part of the history.

    BTW when Cristobal Columbus bumped into your island, he had no clue at all that he was discov ering a new continent.

    In fact a guy realized that this was not India several years after the discovery. His name was Americo Vespuzzio...