Individually Unified We are Americans! We can customize our cars, homes, and even our lives. How did we become such individualists? During the late 1500s, the Chinese government had several chances of becoming a vast world power and instilling their sense of loyalty and unity as a country. Since China believed that they were a self-sufficient entity, they were content to leave things as they were and saw no point in exploring the unknown. The Europeans on the other hand were forced to explore new worlds due to the lack of trading ability and natural resources. Thanks to Christopher Columbus and others that followed, their exploration and conquering of the New World made it possible for Europeans to expand and populate. However, the new findings also made it possible to spread their selfish nature and greedy culture that is passed off today as people being individuals.
In 1492 Christopher Columbus started on his voyage to find what he thought would be a faster route to the West Indies, but in actuality stumbled upon small islands that we now call the Bahamas. When he left on his voyage, his intent was to find and take the riches that the West Indies had to offer but to his disappointment these things that were intended to pay for his voyage did not exist. Clearly, Columbus had reason to worry that his voyage would be viewed as a failure. He had not found the gold mines he sought or the Asian cities described by Marco Polo. He thought he had discovered many spices, though only the chili peppers were new.
(Worlds of History, p.19) When Columbus realized that he had not found the riches he was expected to bring home to the Spanish king and queen, he knew that it was very important to make sure that he portrayed his journey in a pleasing light when he wrote to them (as to not make himself look like a failure). When reading the first hand account of Columbuss voyage, it is in many ways hard to believe that what Columbus was saying was actually the truth. In no way did he talk about his voyage in a negative manner. He talks about how the Indians treated him and his crews like kings. Instead of making himself look like a failure, I feel that he made himself and the Europeans in general look like very greedy people. Columbus did not stumble upon a deserted island and claim it; it was a populated island with humans that spoke a different language and had a very different way of life.
There I found very many islands filled with people innumerable, and of them all I have taken possession for their highnesses, by proclamation made and with the royal standard unfurled, and no opposition was offered to me. (Worlds of History, P.19) From this passage taken from Columbuss letter to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, we see just how positive Columbus was trying to be. When he states that he was offered no opposition by the island natives to claim the land, he was either stretching the truth or the natives did not understand what the outcome of the transaction would be and therefore did not see a reason to oppose. When we talk about Native Americans, particularly the ones that Columbus stumbled upon throughout his voyages, we can see the extent of the selfish nature that the Europeans portrayed. Not only did Columbus and his men take over the land they discovered by bringing in European plants and animals to reproduce them, but they also infiltrated the entire Indian population with the diseases they brought with them. At one point, the Native Americans were almost made scarce by these diseases. Because they did not have a built immunity to the diseases that were brought over, the death toll was extremely high.
Native Americans were replaced not only by horses, sheep, and goats, but also by Africans and Europeans.(The West and the World, p. 5). The natives could not have been kind and accepting after they saw what was happening to the world, as they knew it. It is interesting to see how history has brought on the way we are today. When we look at the differences between the Native American cultures and the European American cultures of our time, it seems obvious which culture takes family and tradition more seriously.
Even now after hundreds of years, we see how American Indians have maintained their traditional lifestyle from the way they dress to how they stay so close to each other in families and as a whole tribe. As a generalization, The European American culture that we come from has become more and more involved with the individual and accomplishing tasks for ourselves, not for the benefit of the family or nation. We can only speculate as to what values we would hold true to our hearts had the Chinese government gone forward with the exploration of the New World. In some aspects I can understand how the expansion was both needed and completely inevitable at the time of Columbuss ventures. One of the most important reasons for Western economic and political expansion was the rise in Europe between 1400 and 1650 of a vigorous series of independent nation-states with competing economies, religions, and ambitions(The West and the World, p.
6) People were starting to think for themselves. They were starting to develop their own ideas and ways of thinking, so far as to break away from the life that they knew. The technological revolution that they were experiencing pushed people to think for themselves and become more individual. It would not be right of us to look back at our ancestors and try to push blame on any one person or group of people. We can only read about what has happened and possibly apply it to our own lives, hopefully learning from what took place.
It would be highly beneficial to us to look at other cultures and learn from them. We cant always take for ourselves in hopes to better just our lives in particular. We can learn to give to others in hopes of making our nation a more unified and pleasant place to live. American History.