Tuesday, January 06, 2004

What History Didn't Teach Us

Remember how we were taught at school about Christopher Columbus, who "discovered" America? You may already know that he was trying to reach India. He just made a wrong turn. Maybe, being a guy, he didn't ask for directions. What's worse, he thought America was indeed, the Indian continent.

Columbus: (jumping at the beach) At last! Land! (grabbing some sand)
Native American Chief: (appears from nowhere) And none too soon, my friend. We've grown tired of waiting that we decided to connect to internet and learn English from www.dictionary.com.
Columbus: You have internet connection in India?
Native American Chief: No. But fortunately, this is America.
Columbus: Sorry chief, but you're mistaken. This must be the Indian continent. We've sailed months for India through storms, hunger, thirst, and lots of sea sickness. And we've lost lots of our crew during the voyage. So this has got to be India!
Native American Chief: We sympathize with your failure to reason. But that doesn't change the fact that this is America.
Columbus: Well, we have these long sticks that shoot thunder and can drill more holes into your body than a thousand knives.

(long pause)

Native American Chief: (donning a white cloth) Welcome to India, Sahib.
Some people rebuke this theory, saying that it was Norse (Viking) sailors who found the continent first. Which is like fighting over who created electricity: Einstein or The Wright Brothers. Because neither Columbus nor the Norse sailors found America. The Native Americans did. It's just plain colonialism to assume the Explorer of the New World's authority. Thus banning natives as savages and started making yourself at home.

Would us Indonesians appreciate being told that a Spain colonist discovered Indonesia? Or that The East India Company (VOC) brought civilization to us? Then how come we keep teaching our children the European Colonization point of view? We should teach history as it is. Not how it should be. We already have marketing communication schools for that.

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