Mario Tagliabue (June 23) is totally missing the point about Christopher Columbus. The voyages of Christopher Columbus represent a tremendous human achievement. His voyages bridged the Eastern and Western hemispheres; thereby initiating the globalization of our world.
Granted, everyone knows that Columbus was not the first European to sail to the “New World.” The Vikings landed in North America some 500 years before Columbus. And, quite possibly other ancient peoples from distant lands settled in the “Americas” long before Leif Ericson “discovered” Vineland. Educated people in Europe knew that the earth was round. Some Europeans even owned globes — although they were inaccurate. During Columbus’s time, the Portuguese were preparing for a trans-Atlantic voyage.
Without trivializing his voyage and subsequent “discovery,” the legacy and spirit of Columbus is much deeper than his actual accomplishment in 1492. Columbus’s story is one of “inspiration,” “imagination” and “intensity.” These three variables — the “Three i’s” of human achievement — accompanied American pioneers such as Admiral Byrd when he explored the polar regions; Doctor Jonas Salk when he founded a vaccine for polio; Susan B. Anthony and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when they struggled for equality and human rights, Neil Armstrong when he became the first human being to walk on the lunar surface, and they were with Barrack Obama when he became the first black American to become President of the United States. Those three simple — yet powerful — words help us to reach our own dreams, goals, and aspirations. Taken collectively, those three words mean hope for a better future.
The zeal of Columbus is with those dedicated professionals arduously seeking a cure for COVID-19 and with other “pathfinders” in their own fields of expertise searching for those answers that will benefit humanity. Columbus’s vigor and spirit of exploration are truly with those who boldly go “where no one has gone before.”
The lesson we learn from Columbus can be summed up in two words: “Sail On!” His fortitude in the midst of adversity, controversy and human drama is a guiding light to those eager visionaries who accomplish great things. His inner strength burns inside those individuals with the gumption to pursue truth and to challenge the popular (mis-) conceptions of the time.
Columbus’s challenge is for us to “stand up” and make a difference in the world we all share together. So, what have you done today?
John Di Genio and Albert J. Cupo