Acknowledging Howard Zinn
In A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES (1492 – PRESENT), I began;
1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island’s beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts.
He later wrote of this in his log: They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned… . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… . They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want…
I concluded by writing;
…I think of the words of the poet Shelley, recited by women garment workers in New York to one another at the start of the twentieth century.
Rise like lions after slumber In unvanquishable number! Shake your chains to earth, like dew Which in sleep had fallen on you- Ye are many; they are few!
In between, now longer than 500 years, we’ve seen the slow, inexorable drift, the drift foretold by the natives, this long cycle, not the 500 plus years, the longer cycle, the part of many cycles, grind toward resolution, the universe continuing to spin, raising us like lions.
~ Stephen J. Bergstrom