Historical Perspective

by Handsome Matt


Over the last decade, Christopher Columbus has become a villain. A racist tyrant, bringing with him death and enslavement to a peaceful, idyllic landscape.

Before that, he was a hero. An explorer of the highest caliber.

Both are false.

We need to stop judging historical figures solely by our current (and waivering) morality. Christopher Columbus was a man of his time, who knew no better than what he knew.

He’s vilified for what reason? He failed to rise above his social expectations and meet ours? And George W. should have known there weren’t WMDs 30 days before he knew there weren’t WMDs in Iraq.

I bring this up to illustrate our current mindset: We’re very a much an all or nothing society.

Columbus is a villain because he carried diseases and opened the Americas to colonization, Jefferson is a villain because he owned slaves. Clinton is a hero because of the economy (which we should now realize, no one has control of the economy).

In environmental terms, we need to understand that “green” technologies still have a negative side. Every decision we make is two-fold.

If we can understand that Columbus made both brilliant and terrible decisions, then we can begin to understand that solar power has negative impacts.

What we need to do is lessen our negative impact. Certain clean technologies will allow that, just like certain lifestyle changes.

There will still be impacts on the planet, but not so severe or irreversible.

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