Since today is the day we celebrate Columbus Day, I have a couple of thoughts to share before I mention some political issues of the day.
Now, I am not getting into whether or not this day should be renamed to honor Native Americans, though I certainly think Native Americans have gotten short shrift in this country in many ways. What happened to tribes in this country centuries ago was terrible. Some was intentional of course, but the spreading of diseases that wiped out so many was not. The result was the same – too many Native Americans died.
But that is not the focus for me today. Rather, I was thinking about what it takes for someone to get into a ship, powered by nothing else but the wind, with little more than the stars by which to navigate, and take off looking for new lands. No GPS, no telephones, no nothing to help him make his way except for the limited navigational aids of the day.
Now, I know Columbus was on his way elsewhere when he hit our neck of the woods. But still – what must it take to be an explorer, to risk life and limb, heading into the Great Unknown? I am reminded of this sculpture, one of my favorites, at Brookgreen Gardens:
Just think about the sheer number of things that could have gone wrong on the voyage undertaken by Columbus: storms, possible mutiny, and lack of wind, to name just a few. And then think about all that had to go RIGHT for him to arrive in a new land in one piece, with his SHIP in one piece, and with his crew intact. It just boggles the mind.
I was thinking about all of this even before going to the movies, but while watching “The Martian,” I couldn’t help but be struck by the spirit demonstrated by astronauts. They are truly modern day explorers. They can have an informed guess about what they might encounter in space, more so than what Columbus could have known in his day, to be sure. But still – it is SPACE, and anything could go wrong. Heck, it HAS gone wrong. Take for instance Apollo 13. Had it not been for duct tape, that mission would likely have failed.
Funny story about that: years ago, a friend asked if I could stay with the daughter and pet of a rabbi friend of hers who was taking a group to Israel. As the Rabbi (a former NYC police officer) was showing me around the house, letting me know where everything was, I will never forget him pulling out a drawer and showing me where the duct tape and WD-40 were. He then told me that his grandfather was one of the people at Mission Control figuring out how to fix the problem on Apollo 13. He concluded that there was nothing you could not fix with duct tape or WD-40. That was a valuable lesson indeed!
But just think about what it takes for these astronauts to buckle themselves into these space ships, to hurtle through space at unimaginable speeds, ESPECIALLY after some missions have failed. What must it take to be an explorer of space now, or of the world centuries ago? To have no idea what one might find, to be so far away from assistance or help if needed, to literally be putting one’s life on the line to discover, to explore, and to learn what is out there? It is truly mind boggling the “places we will go,” at least to me…
As for the politics portion for today, the majority of the talk this morning is about Bowe Bergdahl and the recommendation that this traitor had enough punishment by being tortued after deserting his post, and should not receive confinement. It is a truly astonishing claim to me. Earlier today, I saw a former unit member of Bergdahl’s, retired Sergeant Jordan Vaughan, who in a few words destroyed the defense attorney’s argument that Bergdahl was trying to get to another base to inform them how poorly things were run. Vaughan said they were DRIVING to that base the very next morning, so why in the world would Bergdahl leave his weapon and other aids behind and trying to walk the 90 miles? It defies any reasoning. Vaughan also said he wasn’t surprised by the recommendation since the Army has looked bad from the get-go by taking a man who was dumped by the Coast Guard. He added it is all political now. We will see what Gen. Abrams decides to do, but it sure would be good if the Army did the RIGHT THING and held this man accountable for his actions, for the loss of life his actions caused, and for the far-reaching impact a “time served” verdict will have.
The Federalist has an outstanding, albeit incredibly DISTURBING, article highlighting “5 Things We’ve Learned Since The First Planned Parenthood Video.” I recommend it to you, but I have to warn you that some of the things we have learned are gruesome indeed. The very first one about made me throw up, so just be forewarned.
Finally, Obama’s old minister, Jeremiah Wright, hater of America, made some interesting claims at a Nation of Islam – LOUIS FARRAKHAN – sponsored march this past weekend. From Jerusalem Post:
Jeremiah Wright, President Barack Obama’s former pastor, called Israel an apartheid state and said “Jesus was a Palestinian” at a rally in Washington hosted by the Rev. Louis Farrakhan.
At an hours-long event Saturday on the National Mall titled “Justice or Else,” Wright said that African-Americans, Native Americans and Palestinians have suffered under the “three-headed demon” of “racism, militarism and capitalism.”
“The same issue is being fought today and has been fought since 1948, and historians are carried back to the 19th century … when the original people, the Palestinians — and please remember, Jesus was a Palestinian — the Palestinian people had the Europeans come and take their country,” Wright said, The Hill reported. […] (Click here to read the rest.)
Wow. Just wow, on oh-so-many levels. This mindset, one that Obama listened to for decades, explains a whole lot about the direction of this country, does it not?
That’s it for me today. What’s on your minds this Columbus Day? This is an Open Thread.