Monday, March 10, 2008

Is that really my God? - part III

Ok, now on to better documented books with actual historically verifiable sources. I haven't read all of Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States," but what I have read has impacted my life more than I ever thought possible. The first page is very powerful:

Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at their strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. He later wrote of this in his log:

They...brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks's bells. They willingly traded everything they owned...They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features...They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made out of cane...They would make fine servants...With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.

Now, this last thought wasn't just an intellectual realization. Like when you realize you are a parent of a trusting child and really could do whatever you wanted but don't because you know that would be wrong on so many levels. Oh no. He acted on those thoughts:

As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Islands which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts. And, as Zinn points out, what he wanted to know was where was the gold. He knew they had gold because he thought he was in Asia where they knew there was gold, and also for the "tiny gold ornaments in their ears." He took the prisoners hoping to force them to tell him where the gold was. Unfortunately for them, most of the gold were little bits in rivers, which gave Columbus the impression that Asia (Cuba) and China (Hispaniola) were overflowing with gold. He fictitiously reported back to Spain:

Hispaniola is a miracle Mountains and hills, plains and pastures, are both fertile and beautiful...the harbors are unbelievable good and there are many wide rivers of which the majority contain gold...There are many spices, and great mines of gold and other metals...

And also reported that the Indians:

Are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone.

He also asked the Queen for a little more help and he would send "as much gold as they needed ....and as many slaves as they ask" for on his next journey home. "Thus" he wrote, "the eternal God, our Lord, gives victory to those who follow His way over apparent impossibilities."

To make a long, horrible story short, half of the 250,000 Arawaks died due to murder, mutilation, or suicide. Hands were cut off when gold was not found to frighten others into finding it (how can they find something that does not exist there?!) and ferocious dogs were used to help keep them in line. By 1515 there were around 50,000 Arawaks, and by 1550 there were 500. By 1650 there were none left. Their lives were so bad that they eventually stopped procreating because the men and women were so "depressed and exhausted. [N]ewborns died because their mothers had no milk...Some mothers even drowned their babies from sheer desperation."

As a mother who dearly loves her children and who would do anything in my power to keep them safe, I can't even imagine the horrible lives these women had to live to lead them to kill their babies to protect them so they didn't have to live in such horrible cruelty.

Now, I know that Columbus lived in a time when slavery was accepted and thought to have God's stamp of approval, but if my God is really a just and loving God, an omnipotent, omniscient, LOVING God, then wouldn't He be a bit more ahead of the times and find someone who did not believe in slavery to "find" His Chosen nation? Do I really believe in a God who would not only allow for this to happen but plan it? Isn't my God supposed to agree with the Articles of Faith His church professes to believe and only only punish each man for his own transgression and not for "Adam's" or for their fathers?

Happy Columbus Day.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

What I hate about dreams

When the heater has dried out your nose and you can't breathe and you spend your whole dream trying to blow your nose so you can and nothing works.

When you have to go to the bathroom and you spend your whole dream trying to go to the bathroom and, again, nothing works.

When you have to go to the bathroom and you spend your whole dream trying go to the bathroom and you succeed, only to find that you wish you hadn't.

(fortunately, with the last one, I don't ever remember having succeeded)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Conversations with a 5-year old

Me: Do you remember when we were talking about the silent "e" at the end of a word? Well, the "t" in "listen" is also a silent letter.

Him: Oh, you mean it's just supposed to shut-up and not say anything?

Me giggling: Uh, yah, it's just supposed to shut-up and not say anything.

S & M (ha) wielding the toys they've turned into swords and shields and running around the house

S: I'm the king of the world!

M: Me! King! Too!

S: Yah!

M: Yah!

Me: All right, you finished your homework. Good job, sweetie!

Him: Mama, I want to do more homework.

Me: Well, sweetie, we don't have any more right now, and it's actually time to get ready for bed. I promise we'll do more tomorrow.

Him getting grumpy: I want to do more homework right now!

Me thinking: This can't be my kid

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Is that really my God? - part II

I believed my whole life that Columbus was a good and righteous man led by God to America so God's righteous people could again inhabit the land. I believed that "we" were sent here by God not only to obtain God's chosen nation, but to help the Lamanites change their "wicked" ways and know God again. I believed that God had cursed the Lamanites and that after the Pilgrims came here, so many died of disease because He wanted them humbled so they would see the error of their ways. I believed that the Pilgrims were right in obtaining the land that they did and that it would help the "Indians" to humble themselves.

The following found in the Book of Mormon support the "righteousness" of Columbus and the Pilgrims

Here is 1 Nephi 13:10-16

10 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren.
11 And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren.
12 And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and awrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.
13 And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.
14 And it came to pass that I beheld many amultitudes of the Gentiles upon the bland of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were cscattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.
15 And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and aobtain the bland for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and cbeautiful, like unto my people before they were dslain.
16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.

So, you see, it was all supposed to happen. God knew it would happen and planned it that way and wanted it to happen. It's ok that they knowingly gave the Native Americans blankets with small pox on them because they were righteous and it was God's plan. It's ok that the Native Americans were kicked off of their land and weren't given back land they were promised because it was all part of God's righteous plan to humble them and bring them unto Him.

And the "Gentiles" (Pilgrims) who were in "captivity" and were "wrought" by the Spirit to come here? I was always taught that all they wanted was religious freedom. They wanted to be free to be righteous people and live in a land where everyone could be free to live as they chose. Freedom is what it's all about, baby. Well, sort of. I'll write more about this as soon as I find the source again, but I have learned that it wasn't all about letting everyone decide how they each wanted to live. Those who came here were building God's kingdom and that couldn't be done very well if there wasn't complete unity. There was actually little tolerance for religious nonconformity in early colonial America. That's not the same colonial America I grew up believing in. So, what else is new?