Christopher Columbus and the Strike Zone…it’s all about Perspective

I just walked to the mailbox, was puzzled by its emptiness, then remembered today is Columbus Day. We learned in elementary school that Christopher Columbus discovered America? Funny, isn’t it…such a matter of perspective.

More fall softball yesterday. It was a glorious day to watch a couple games. And even though the games did not affect any standings, didn’t really mean anything as far as win/loss records, fans were still very involved, and somewhat rabid.

The rulebook succinctly defines the strike zone as the area between the forward armpit and the top of the knees, over the plate. But those words don’t always play out as clearly as one would think. And from outside of the fence, balls and strikes are a matter of perspective.

So Christopher Columbus believed the world was round while everyone else said it was flat. That’s what we were taught in elementary school. And it’s not true.

When Christoffa Corombo (in his native Genoese language) set sail for Asia, it was already widely accepted by scientists and astrologists that the world was round. The question was how large the world was? There were two prominent theories, and Columbus chose the wrong one. Which is why he thought he landed in Asia, when it was really what we know today as the Dominican Republic.

He made three voyages, but none of them ever brought him to the place now called the United States. And rather than promoting the false belief that he proved the world wasn’t flat, why don’t we praise him for his vast knowledge of the trade winds which made it possible for him to return to Europe by a relatively easy path? He didn’t find Asia, but he made great strides for trade ships by navigating the easterly and westerly trade winds in the Atlantic Ocean.

The first European to land in the United States was actually Juan Ponce de Leon. Why don’t we have a day for him?

And why do we promote the idea that either of these men “discovered” a land, when that land already had inhabits? Because Columbus was the first European (read real/cultured person)? Because we never took the time to understand native American culture? Interesting perspective.

In softball (or baseball), there are only two people who have the necessary perspective to determine balls and strikes – the catcher and the home plate umpire. Not the people in either dugout, or the bleachers. Not the pitcher’s parents or the batter’s parents.

This is not to say umpires are infallable. They are human, imperfect, and sometimes inconsistent. Sometimes fans sitting directly behind home plate can identify those inconsistencies. But even the clearest view from the stands still has two people between the fan and the pitch. And for the rest of us, it’s still a matter of perspective.

We make decisions and tell stories based on our flawed perspective, don’t we? We choose the perspective of having a national holiday to honor the first European to touch North America, pretending Native Americans weren’t already here.

We argue balls and strikes when we can’t even see the entire plate.

But most importantly, we judge others solely based on our own perspective. We don’t try to understand, to see through their eyes. We judge their motivation based on what our motivation is, or would be in a similar situation. We make choices to build bridges or walls based on our or someone else’s faulty perspective. We withhold the favor of our kindness, and folks who needed us, OR folks who would have blessed us with great friendship are pushed away.
I have even judged right after a church service, about others who attended that same service.

Maybe I am alone in that. You have probably never judged based on a faulty perspective, have you?

Please understand, I have nothing against Christopher Columbus, and certainly fans have a right to be reasonable vocal.

But those minor points aside, wouldn’t the world be a better place if we considered our own biased perspective before making a judgment?

I think so. I would love to hear what you think.

Gotta run to the bank…oh wait…

Happy Columbus-lands-in theDominican-Republic Day!