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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gotchha Time

Today I watched a video biography of Christopher Columbus.  In the late 1400 and early 1500’s he sailed west from Spain hoping to discover new routes to riches.  One of his explicit motives was to help spread Christianity.  In this endeavor, he felt especially called by God.  From our point of view about 600 years later a strange incongruity comes to mind.  Though set on a divine mission, he had no compunctions whatever regarding slavery and assumed that this peculiar institution could be one of the spoils of his endeavors [Reference].  I wonder jumping 600 years into the future, what about our lives today will stand out as a glaring incongruity to our religion or human rights doctrines.  What peculiar blindness do we have that we don’t perceive or even suspect that we do not see?  In 600 years what about our lives today will people simply shake their heads over in incomprehension how we could have been so blind.  Will it involve something about our economic life, our international arrangements, our societal assumptions and acceptances?  Will the people then be shocked at how easily we could tolerate some form of neglect, injustice, or callousness?  It is pointless to guess what that blindness might be for by definition it would involve something obvious to the future but completely hidden from us due to our assumptions and prejudices.  That, I suppose, is why it is always risky business to contemporarily conclude that an individual or the society one lives in is in some sense absolutely good.  Quite understandably, any given society wants to view itself as good while proximity to prejudices makes that determination in fact quite impossible.  That is why even in our triumphs we should maintain a prayerful attitude.

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