Wed | Dec 12, 2018

Letter of the Day | Columbus more a force for good than evil

Published:Saturday | December 8, 2018 | 12:02 AMLloyd Cooke

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I feel compelled to respond to the Rev Devon Dick’s article in The Gleaner of Thursday, December 6, 2018. He tells us of the recommendation of Dr Ahmed Reid to remove Columbus’ statue from St Ann’s Bay to a museum, and to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day.

A reading of Columbus’ diaries, or of books written by those who have investigated these diaries, tell us that Columbus was quite different to his times as he was a very committed Bible reader who was almost an evangelical Christian.

While it is factual that Columbus himself was sympathetic and tender towards the indigenous peoples he found, and desirous of their Christianisation, it is also true that most of the other Spaniards did not share the same feelings Columbus expressed, and they did abuse the Tainos (Arawaks), Kalinagos (Caribs) and Mayan peoples.

Columbus’ leadership was soon challenged, and he was eventually arrested and sent back to Spain in chains by those whose interests were solely gold, profits and abuse of the natives to accomplish their purpose. But critics usually do not make any distinction.

While Columbus was not perfect, he certainly was not the villain that common historical opinion claims him to have been. It should also be recognised that his world, even within the ‘Christian’ nations, was a violent age that treated even their fellow believers with a measure of violence that would not be countenanced by Christian believers and our more enlightened world today. Let us then be open to acknowledge the many failures of Christians, yet not give the impression that all that Christians and the Church have done for the world has been evil.

While we should be open to tell of our failures, let us also emphasise the positives of our faith. There is still a lot of good that Christianity has done in our world to help the sick, the maimed, the uneducated, the widows and orphans, and has indeed brought about much positive change to our world.

Would the history of the indigenous peoples of the New World have been better off if Columbus, the Church and the Europeans had not come to the New World? This is debatable, but I doubt it, all things considered.

LLOYD A. COOKE

Royal Flat, Box 642

Mandeville PO