Statues of Heroes

(Note DTG:) This was the sample piece submitted by “Brian of the North” to sub for Juliette “Baldilocks” as she can’t write here till Jan 1st due to the AB5 restrictions in California till the end of the year. I thought it was good enough to post so here is your introduction to the latest member of our Magnificent Seven. If you like what you see let me know and we will, subject to the limits of AB5 as he is also from California, keep him as a regular after Jan 1st as well!

Chicago removed its last Christopher Columbus statues the other day. The statue had been on display in the City of Big Shoulders for 130 years. At least, in a nod to civilized behavior (remember that?), it was the mayor who ordered the statue removed, not the mob.

The mob, though was behind it, and objected that Columbus mistreated the indigenous people of the Americas, and so was unworthy of admiration. Columbus statues were also recently removed from or vandalized in Sacramento, Richmond, Providence, Pittsburgh, Miami, Boston, and, of course, Columbus. Along with numerous statues or monuments to Confederate soldiers, statues of Ponce de Leon and George Washington were also vandalized by the thoughtless mob.

The mob understands that statues represent a society’s heroes, those individuals the society has deemed worth remembering and literally looking up to. But what those brainless goons fail to understand is why Columbus, Washington, and de Leon are worthy heroes.

Heroes are admired for their accomplishments, not their failings. We understand people are imperfect. But we admire certain people for what they managed to accomplish, despite living in a world filled with the same idiots we all deal with every day. And while we should consider their failings, we should only to the extent those failings exceed the normal failings of humans of that era. Washington held slaves? Understood, but then, humans had owned other humans as slaves in a continuous line from that era back to the time of the caveman, so maybe that failing wasn’t so extraordinary.

As for Washington’s accomplishments? Let’s not turn this article into a listicle.

Likewise, Columbus’s failing of mistreatment of the indigenous people, while worth criticism, certainly was not so extraordinary to the era. And the indigenous peoples were no angels themselves, and mistreated others of different tribes in ways that would make Tarantino blush. But the accomplishment of sailing the Atlantic into the unknown, and finding the Americas, transformed Europe, transformed the Americas, transformed the world.

Society needs heroes – real life heroes, who accomplished big things in real life. By showing people what was possible then, we inspire people to dream what might be possible tomorrow. And by holding these heroes to impossible standards, we blind our own selves to that same inspiration.

You don’t think Columbus still inspires? Did you watch the Space X landing last weekend?

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