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Thoughts from Dr. Joe: The Admiral of the Ocean Sea

October 05, 2011|By Joe Puglia

Last year, I wrote thoughts about Christopher Columbus. Through the Internet my thoughts sailed across the country, prompting numerous debates regarding his morality and his significance. Indulge me as I revisit his story. This time I’ll delve deeper into the nature of the man.

There was a time when the New World did not exist — at least not for Europeans. The sun set in the west at the far edge of an ocean where no man dared to venture, and beyond that, infinity — or so they thought. Geographers believed that monsters guarded the edge of the world. It was thought to be impossible to cross the ocean.

In 1492, obsessive monarchs Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile ruled a Spain that was consumed by fear and superstition. Their ruthless inquisition persecuted those who dared to dream.

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The Old World castigated visionaries as science denied possibility. Life was inert, waiting for a dreamer.

Christopher Columbus, a determined navigator from Genoa, Italy, challenged the monarchs and — driven by his sense of destiny, greed and narcissism — crossed the sea of darkness in search of honor, gold, fame and the glory of God.

Columbus’ reputation has not survived the scrutiny of history. He never set foot on the mainland. Leif Erikson established an outpost on the island of Newfoundland 500 years before Columbus’ arrival.

Christopher Columbus was no saint. He was like you and me; he possessed a duality of good and evil. He was a visionary, a man of courage who went beyond the edge of the world to find what was out there.

“I will not be told what to be afraid of,” he said. “I want to find out for myself.”

Defying the superstitions of the status quo, he said, “Go and find out what the world is about and tell me something I can accept.”

He was impractical and vehemently asserted integrity of purpose and imagination against those who play it safe. He was brutally critical of the unimaginative and viewed them as slaves of the ordinary.

His charm and flirtatious manner wooed Isabella but he danced one step away from her guillotine. Showing no servitude toward royalty, his arrogance and seductiveness controlled Isabella’s will. He defied the leading scientists and pointed out their lack of daring. He made many enemies. He was only safe at sea.

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