Monday, October 12, 2015


It's called the Discovery Doctrine, and it has a 500 year legal history.
When Christopher Columbus first set foot on the white sands of Guanahani island he performed
 a ceremony to "take possession" of the land for the king and queen of Spain, acting under the
international laws of Western Christendom. Although the story of Columbus' "discovery" has
taken on mythological proportions in most of the Western world, few people are aware that
 his act of "possession" was based on a religious doctrine now known in history as
 the Doctrine of Discovery.

Under the doctrine, a government could claim title to lands it's subjects travelled to and
occupied and whose indigenous inhabitants were not subjects of a European Christian
monarch. The doctrine's legal use has been for invalidating aboriginal claims to their
homeland in favor of colonial governments.
Many historical periods are inaccurately portrayed; the winners write the history books. Dealing objectively and in human terms with conquest, displacement of populations, and genocide hasn't yet become the norm.

Power and hubris have shaped every country in the world. The conquering heroes may have thought well of their own actions, but there was perhaps more to the story in every case. 

The first European explorers knew nothing of the civilizations and cultures of Africa or the Americas, some of which preceded their own by more than a thousand years. Colonization and conquest decimated the populations, divided up the land and resources, and imposed subservience on the survivors.

Recent history includes similar conquest and the death of millions at the hands of those who would advance themselves at the expense of another. WWI and II were attempts at conquest and acquisition of land and resources. Today, Wall Street is headquarters for the ongoing economic war now waged in the marketplace for the same goals. Perhaps we're finally catching on, they're not heroes.

How might we honestly process and respond to such information?

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Whose History?