Monday, March 10, 2008
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
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
Sunday, March 2, 2008
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?
Sunday, February 24, 2008
In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He was determined, faithful, and righteous. He was led by the Spirit of God in his desire to sail the oceans and to gain wisdom and knowledge. He was led by God to the Americas so that His blessed children could live in a blessed nation, one he created just for them, the righteous. Columbus had to go before the king and queen of Spain, who turned him down at first, but were then moved (by his effervescent righteousness and the Spirit. - unknowingly of course. They were evil Gentiles who couldn't understand God, you know). Columbus was so righteous he was chosen before coming to this earth and he fulfilled his mission, and then His righteous people sailed across the ocean to His blessed land. Just read about it in the Book of Mormon.
These are the things I learned about Columbus through school and church. I celebrated Columbus day, subconsciously smugly, knowing that I had been righteous enough to be born in His chosen nation in His chosen true church. Those poor people who were not. They could not celebrate the same freedoms and blessings I did. Well, if they lived righteously enough, God would bless them. (man was I subconsciously a judgmental jerk).
Then I took my American Society sociology class and that change my life forever. My professor has a famous (at least in the sociology department where I went to school) Columbus lecture that just blows you away. I had sort of already given myself permission to question the church (I made that decision in the temple, but that's another story for another time) and start looking for answers, but hadn't really taken many steps on my own yet. By the end of the lecture I thought to myself, “is this really my God? Do I really believe in a God that would do that? Or call a man righteous who would do that? Or lead him and other here knowing they would do those things? Would he really punish the "Lamanites," as he said he would, for their fathers sins? No, that is not my God.” It was liberating and frightening.
Here is the complete 1492 poem:
In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.
He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way.
A compass also helped him know
How to find the way to go.
Ninety sailors were on board;
Some men worked while others snored.
Then the workers went to sleep;
And others watched the ocean deep.
Day after day they looked for land;
They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand.
October 12 their dream came true,
You never saw a happier crew!
"Indians! Indians!" Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.
But "India" the land was not;
It was the Bahamas, and it was hot.
The Arakawa natives were very nice;
They gave the sailors food and spice.
Columbus sailed on to find some gold
To bring back home, as he'd been told.
He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain.
The first American? No, not quite.
But Columbus was brave, and he was bright.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
It starts out with me dreaming that I am having a dream. I am inside a building without my family but with many other people. I start to feel a sense of foreboding and fear and so I start to look around me to see what is wrong. When I see what is wrong the fear inside of my chest begins to squeeze around my heart. There are at least three very large, angry black and brown bears loose in the building attacking people. I panic and start running for the other side of the room and crouch down next to the wall. In my dream, my view pans out and I see my purse sitting on the floor, forgotten, and I see myself crouching on the floor, along with many others, and hoping that if I stay still that the bear will leave me alone. He does not and I know things do not end well for me.
Next in my dream I am in a class room in the same building, getting ready to take a test, and the professor is showing us something on the overhead. I am unable to sit and listen well because of the dream I had and that I didn't have a pencil with me. I decide to stay after the class to get some one-on-one information with my professor and find that he is dancing Tae Kwon Do moves and tells me to do them with him or I will fail the class. I am embarrassed and hesitant because I have no idea how to dance, but I know that my professor knows that once I start dancing my body will know what to do. So, I take off my shoes and slowly begin dancing Tae Kown Do as well. Our bodies soon begin to synchronize and I suddenly seem to know things I hadn't known before. I had some sort of new connection to the universe. I knew my professor was in love with me and I saw that he wanted to touch his forehead to mine and tell me so; I knew that I didn't love him and if I professed such that I would ruin his life as well as mine; I knew that there was another professor who had attended the class, who was also now hiding behind some chairs and watching us, specifically to be able to dance with him as I was dancing with him because she was in love with him and he didn't know it. She was angry with me for taking her place and vowed to get back at me. I started feeling afraid again. I knew she had the power to fail me and make my life miserable and that she was figuring out at that moment how to hurt me as I had hurt her.
My professor's next class was starting to begin so I sat down to listen, but was too distracted by the vengeful female professor to comprehend what was being said. I decided that if I quietly left
everything would be ok. I would show the female professor that she had won and the two of them would be very happy together and she'd stop plotting my demise. As I walk through the halls I see many students finishing up their finals or who have finished and are getting ready to take the results to the office. The building now has that end-of-semester feel to it and I know everyone is excited to be done.
I reach the front of the building and grab on to my youngest son's hand and tell my oldest son to follow me to the car. There are a lot of people surrounding us, many of them young children, and I look for my oldest son to make sure he's following me. I don't see him, but I know he is near. That's when I see the bears and know that my dream and been a premonition. I yell at my oldest to follow me to the wall and tell him to stand perfectly still. There are other adults standing around telling the kids to hold still and to let the bears sniff them. For some reason the bears are not hurting these adults who are not crouching or standing still by the wall, but I also know that their safety is not assured either. I am crouching there, holding M's hand and picturing where S is standing and I know that the bear has passed him. He is nibbling on the hair of a young toddler who is asking an adult why the bear is nibbling on his hair. The adult tells the child to let the bear nibble and promises that he if does so he will be safe and will move on. Somehow I know the adult is telling the truth.
The bear then moves to the next three kids and sniffs them as well. The bear stops in front of M and me and I suddenly saw the dream sequence happen all over in my and had a running commentary on what he would do next. This is when he will move my hair (he does), this is when he will start to move on to the next person (again, he does), this is when he will stop and decide to gnaw at me. For some reason this part differs from my original dream. He does not eat me and moves on to the next person.
I wait until I think the bear is distracted enough and I grab my kids' hands and run them out to the car as fast as I can. The car is unlocked and I put them in it. For some reason I have 3 other kids with me, but I didn't recognize them as mine. I just knew I was supposed to have them with me. Then I realized that I didn't have my keys or purse and that I needed to go back and get them or else we wouldn't be able to get home. I tell my oldest to sit and wait in the car until I got back, not to talk to anyone, and to not be afraid, I would be back as soon as I could.
I ran back to the building praying that the kids would be ok. When I got back to the building I looked down and saw my purse. That's when I remember the rest of my dream. I see the bear trying to attack me again and me hitting him with my purse. I pick up my purse and keys and prepare for the bear to turn around and notice me, which he does. He starts running toward me and the battle ensues. It takes awhile but I fend the bear off. I don't remember if someone eventually takes the bear away or if it runs away, but I do know that I was alive and the bear was gone. Then it hit me. It's been over an hour and the kids are waiting in the car. I start to hyperventilate and freak out. "Please!" I yell to one of the men nearby, "Please, go out and make sure my kids are ok!" I know something is wrong. It's hot out, the car was unlocked. Maybe they got out and were hit by cars, maybe someone kidnapped them, maybe they died in the car because of the heat. My heart cries out for them and I run to the car.
They are no longer there. I run, crying out their names. I know they are not in the parking lot so I start running toward town, feeling the empty ache of not knowing where my precious boys are. I run into one of the other bears and it attacks me as well. I hit the honey-covered bear with my purse and it looks at me confused. I just hit it with a pillow. I know it's futile to fend the bear with a pillow but I am angry and aching and want to live to hopefully find my kids. I eventually start to run and the bear tries to stop me by pulling on my legs. The side of the road turns into the top of an arcade game and I try to climb over it. The bear almost succeeds in pulling me down but I slide down between back of the arcade game and two fake games. I open up the front of one of the games and pull out my children's fake plastic swords and hold onto them, wishing I could be holding my children but only feeling the empty ache of fear, loss and not knowing if I'll ever see them again. I start to sing parts of U2's With or Without You (for some reason in my dream I only hear this part of the the song and not the whole thing.
And I wait without you.
With or without you.
With or without you.
And I'm waiting for you
With or without you
With or without you
I cant live
With or without you
And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give
And you give
And you give yourself away
My dream starts to pan out as I hear Bono singing the last phrases over and over again and I see myself sitting on the ground holding their swords, wondering if I will ever be able to hold my babies in my arms again.
I finally woke up and knew that I wouldn't be going back to sleep. I went downstairs to go check on the kids and touch their sweet faces, hoping that the ache I feel in my chest would lighten. It did not. I decided to write out my dream, hoping that seeing the words would help. It has not. I know that the ache will eventually lessen throughout the day, as it has in the past when I have had nightmares about my kids. It's at times like these, when the line between dream and reality are so blurred and the pain so real. that I feel I can understand, to a small degree, the pain others feel at having truly lost their children. To any of those parents who may be reading this, please know that I am so truly sorry for your loss and your pain. My heart goes out to you, today and always.