Monday, October 14, 2013

Why You Should Celebrate Today

I'm not good at taking breaks from work.  The thing is, I can't sit still without getting twitchy and restless, so I have to read or write to make it through.  Today, however, I had an idea.  Seeing as it's a holiday, I was going to celebrate it.

Technically speaking, it is Columbus Day, which is a day that I don't celebrate at all.  Most people probably don't even notice, unless they actually have a day off from work or school.  Some people probably remember learning the silly rhyme about 1492 or how Columbus proved that the world was round rather than flat.  Sadly, that little misconception is still being taught to children today.  Why?  Who knows.  Maybe it's just easier to teach kids to say Columbus instead of Eratosthenes.

I've detested Columbus Day and all that it stands for ever since the day I read on my own and realized that some of the lessons I had learned in school weren't exactly correct.  From that day forward, I decided I was going to have to learn "truth" on my own and do the best I could to help others find that truth, too.

As far as human rights go, I am part Native American, mostly Irish, and all female.  This means that my ancestors and I know what it means to be less than.  As an adult, I discovered that Native American friends of mine saw this as a day of mourning rather than celebration, so I decided to help protest its existence.  For the last several years, I've written Congress to suggest that we honor someone else.  There are many men and women who have done good deeds or influenced and inspired Americans to achieve their dreams, so we have a big list.  But speaking of great women, wouldn't it be nice to have a federal holiday dedicated to Amelia Earhart or Eleanor Roosevelt?

This year, I have no Congress to send my communications to, so I decided to make a photo album that I could keep until we have a government again.  Then I persuaded my friends at work to join in with me, and I am grateful that most of them said yes and even patiently listened to my history rant as I explained my reasoning.  During my breaks and lunch, I made up some posters, and then we snapped quick pictures on my phone.  (I'll have to post high-res pictures of the posters later so they can be read! We were laughing too hard during some of the shots.)

Why we don't like Columbus:

 Columbus Was a Gold Digger

 Columbus Hates Babies

 Columbus Ousted Pluto
Columbus Cancelled ACL

He got all the credit, when it really belongs to this guy:

(If you've never heard of Eratosthenes, I recommend starting by reading this blog: Yay, Science!)

And thanks to The Oatmeal, I was inspired to end the tradition of protesting Columbus Day by celebrating a wonderful man forgotten by history and never talked about in schools:  Bartolom√© de Las Casas.  Celebrating was easy, and it involved a lot of hugs and laughing.  Each picture got a little crazier, but it all went along with the spirit of loving others and adding a little more light in a dark place.

It turns out even scientists know how to celebrate.  I'm sure our representatives will enjoy the photos once they decide to become our government again.

In the meantime, my final thought on why I despise misconceptions so much:  Children should never learn lies or a glossed over and glamorous "truth."  It would be a gross understatement to say simply that lies are wrong, but that's still an important point.  We all deserve to know what really happened in history, or we aren't really learning.  History will protect the future from repeating the same mistakes.  And who knows?  Maybe if generations of American children had learned some of the atrocities that led to the founding of our country, we could be farther along as a people and not even having to deal with fighting for rights and freedoms anymore.  It's just a thought.

Happy Bartolomé Day, everyone!