When I think of Christopher Columbus, I think of one of the most courageous and confident people in the history of mankind. He took on a great deal of responsibility when he promised the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, that he would become successful in finding India and China if they gave him their permission and support. Even though he was tremendously confident and focused on his goals, he had a very stubborn and egoistic personality. He refused to face the truth even though his thoughts and ideas were proven wrong to him. It has been described by psychologists that he had a condition called “belief perseverance’, a state of mind where you won’t accept proven facts.
Columbus was, according to my self, seeking for something way beyond his abilities. His personal goals were to spread Christianity to all corners of the world and believed himself to be the “Christ Bearer”. And what convinced him even more in believing so was the sight of the New World and its beautiful nature and habitat. He compared the wonderful sight and presence of the South American terrain to the Gardens of Eden. The Natives, who as we all know, had a different view of the world, saw the Europeans as God like creatures, especially when they saw the Spaniards on Horses. They could not realize that the Spaniards were riding on horses, but viewed the man and the horse as one creature. Now, you can imagine how the Indians treated their “European Gods”, they worshiped them, and Columbus did nothing to deny this incomprehensible misconception. In fact, this convinced him even further in believing that he was sent from the heaven to convert the Natives.
Even though his primary vocation was religious, Columbus had other plans in mind. By being the most eminent explorer and captain for the Kingdom of Spain, he wished to raise his social status and turn him and his entire family to Lords. And no question about it, Columbus was well educated and articulate. The proof of that is evident in his letters to the monarchs, very professional and articulate. His exaggerated confidence in himself was one of the reasons why he was able to convince the majesties to give him their blessings and support, along with his professionalism.
Columbus paved the way for future European explorers and started an era of continuous attempts for the searching of treasures and success in the Americas. I think the reason for his failure was his ignorance and stubbornness and the fact that he was unrealistic about his goals in life. Even though he was a born leader, he made a big mistake when he took on the burden of exploring the New World on his own. It’s obvious that he wasn’t alone on his journey, but in his own mind he was the one and only “God send” man who was on his own spiritual mission.
His early successes made others jealous of him and his egoistic personality didn’t make it easier for him. And let’s not forget the fact that the people who accompanied him on his journeys were not your average Spanish citizens. These were the outcasts, the scum of society. They were bloodthirsty and drunken conquistadors who did not share any compassion with anyone or anything. All they wanted was to please them selves, and this proved to be one of the devastating factors that dragged Columbus down the path of destruction. His enemies made several politically motivated charges against him and he was forced to return back to Spain to clear his name of all the charges.
But in today’s Spain Christopher Columbus, or Cristobál Colón in Spanish, is a very important figure of the history of Spain. A monument is built of Columbus standing on a tall pillar pointing to the sea in Barcelona, Spain. Spaniards view him as one of the most prominent figures in Spanish history. Columbus would have turned in his grave if he knew how much the Spaniards have paid tribute to his achievements.
But there is a different side to the story. The native population of the Americas has a very bitter and negative view of Columbus. They do not see him as a great explorer and Admiral, but blame him for the pain and agony he has caused them by exposing them to all the misdemeanors of the western world.
To me Christopher Columbus was a very intelligent and hardworking man. He had a dream of finding something new and he achieved it. But as we have seen through history, increasing power and success manipulates people and inhibits them from realizing the real truth, and I think that was the case for Christopher Columbus as well.