Paying Attention

Have you ever passed something in your community without paying much attention to it ?

I had passed this strange winged lion statue near my house many times without having much interest in it.

Then, several years ago in Venice, Italy, I saw another statue just like this one ! So I checked out what it meant.

This is a symbol of St. Mark, the Evangelist. His tomb is at the San Marco Basilica in Venice, and he is considered to be the patron saint (protector) of this city.

In 1497, the explorer John Cabot set sail from Venice, and landed in our little community ! Although he was Italian, (Giovanni Caboto) , he was working under the commission of Henry VII, and thus he claimed this part of North America for England.

However, he did not ‘discover’ North America, since there were already indigenous populations living here long before the arrival of European settlers. There is a lobby in our town asking people to stop using the term ‘discovered’, since it is disrespectful to the native people of Newfoundland.

Some local residents are rightly insisting that June 24, 1497 be no longer called ‘Discovery Day’.

Using this term is just a grim reminder of how harshly aboriginal populations were treated by the ‘discoverers’.

May God give us the grace to treat everyone with dignity and respect, and may he grant us the wisdom and courage to speak up against all forms of oppression.

23 thoughts on “Paying Attention

  1. Interesting, I learnt something new. I do agree that considering it discovered like no one resided there before is hurtful to those that called it home prior.
    A similar thing here with what is called Australia Day celebrated on Jan26th- it is the day that the fleet came from Britain and as history goes the indigenous aboriginals were treated poorly and with hostility.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks for sharing this. Yes, this is very sad. It is time to do whatever we can to rectify hurts of the past. We can learn from the mistakes of history.
      Thanks for commenting. πŸ€—

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A thought provoking post Sally, and definitely pertinent to the present debate in society. Personally I think a balanced view needs to be held where present generations are not held guilty for their forefathers sins, but they can acknowledge them.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. They use “discovered” because, at the time, they literally didn’t know some places existed. They assumed you could sail right through open ocean and reach lands they knew about, then they suddenly came upon a new place. They discovered there was land there, not just ocean.

    It would be like discovering a new planet. It’s been there, obviously, but we didn’t know.

    And yes, I come from one of these “discovered” places, my family being natives there, and I really don’t care if people use the word discovered. In historical context, it makes sense. Anyway, take care.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thanks Sally. These strange winged lions originated, like much else, in ancient Sumeria, likely circa 3000-2500BC. It was representative of one of their deities and was later adapted by others in various forms. It is interesting, as you said, the way we often do not pay much attention to such symbols.

    Regardless of cultures or times, the Golden Rule applies to all. May we all do our best. Blessings to you.

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  5. We are only beginning to grasp the horrific things done to indigenous peoples. Colonialism has had far-reaching effects that continue to this day.When we educate ourselves, when we learn that our so-called history was written only from the perspective of the dominant culture things can change. There needs to be a lot more awareness around such things as language i.e. “Discovery”. When we learn more about one another, our various backgrounds and cultures we all win. I love the prayer and to that I say, “Amen”.

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  6. Should sons be punished for the sins of their great great great grandfathers? I do not agree with oppression but it was a discovery to the Europeans. I don’t find the term discovery offensive. I guess in my opinion there is very little or nothing that is completely original, books, movies, trails, ideas, philosophies that someone else hasn’t discovered before me. But when I discover a new trail, new book, or new restaurant that excites me; I am happy to share my discovery. – David

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    1. I do see your point of view, and I thank you for your comment.
      One of the native groups, the Beothuk became extinct after the arrival of the Europeans, here in NL.
      Other natives were taken as slaves back to Europe.

      I have worked as a researcher in Native Canadian communities. The historical treatment of indigenous peoples has not been great.
      Since words can sometimes cause offense, perhaps the word ‘Arrival’ could be used rather than ‘Discovery.’
      As we know, David, language is powerful.

      Thanks for reading . 😊🌷

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Cabot discovered North America for himself. Apparently, the indigenous people migrated from Asia. They were the first to discover our continent. Many scientists believe that the ancestors of all North American First Nations people crossed over on foot to North America from Asia at the end of the last ice age, about 12,000 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think it is great to point out how much history you can learn from one statue. Many times we look at things and do not think of the meaning behind them. It is a very nice statue of a lion with wings. I never would have thought about what it means. I know people go on about statues of people, but I would think of a lion with wings more as art, not history. Thank you for the insight!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Learning is endless and it is funny how you got to learn about something in your home from Venice. Everyone should be treated with due respect indeed regardless of who they are. Thank you for sharing this Dr.

    Liked by 1 person

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