This is one of my favorite times of the year. The leaves begin their change into vibrant colors. The air is particularly crisp in the early morning. Evening skies become a brooding blue-gray. Pumpkin patches and corn mazes beckon while Olive, Victor, and the Krakens chug glassfuls of cider. Scarecrows and skeletons adorn door fronts while witches float aloft from tree branches. And brave social justice warriors boldly set social media ablaze with anti-Christopher Columbus memes. What better way to let people know you care without having to actually sacrifice anything at all than to post a sternly worded meme professing your anger and disgust?
I am not sure when the shift occurred, but the schism left in its wake is vast and wide. Christopher Columbus went from hero to villain in the amount of time it takes Hillary to delete an email. I can’t put my finger on which generation is was that started feeling guilty about being American. It sure as hell wasn’t the Greatest Generation. They were too busy conducting 26 amphibious landings in the Pacific stacking bodies from Imperial Japan and screaming across Africa and Europe smoke-checking Nazis. The Silent Generation is called silent for a reason; it wasn’t them. The Baby Boomers, those born after WWII, set the stage for some serious self-loathing with their hippie counter-culture, but even they were mostly silent about good ‘ol Chris. Generation X, I believe, is our culprit. Products of the Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers were born into a world of relative peace and stability, and growth, prosperity, and success that the world and all the generations before them had never seen. 2 cars parked in front of each newly minted McMansion, electronics out the wazoo, and a Wal-Mart, 24-hour grocery store, and a CVS on every corner was the norm. Things got pretty comfy and comfort makes it easy to forget how hard the road at one time was to travel. Take America’s economic success and mix it with a healthy dose of Vietnam-era hippies yapping all day long in high school and college campuses, and poof! You get a generation of very successful adults that have been taught to feel guilty for the life of relative luxury that they live.
Wrought with guilt, they searched desperately for an outlet. Christopher Columbus became their target. He was of European decent and is dead and gone with no family or friends to defend his reputation. Once a year, they courageously tweet that good ‘ol Chris was a terrorist and a bad, evil man. With one gentle tap of the screen on their phone they absolve themselves of wrongdoing. Tap…“Damn that Christopher Columbus”. No need to cede their land back to the “indigenous people” when they can post a meme. With each post their guilt fades. And more and more kids grow up without a clear understanding of who we are, how the world works, and what makes American so incredibly special and truly one of a kind.
What I find surprising is how many CrossFitters have a disdain for Chris. It is a shame, because he would have made an awesome CrossFitter. There are many people from history with whom I’d like to workout, but Christopher Columbus is definitely in the top 5. Read on and find out why you, too, need to embrace Chris.
Reason Number 1 to love Chris: Chris was determined – you are determined.
When Chris was growing up there were no elementary school teachers for the masses. No gym class, no recess, no flash cards, and no lunch lines. One third of all kids were busy dying by age 5. Boys that did survive went off to serve in an apprenticeship where there were subject to all sorts of safe work practices. Girls faired no better laboring at home until they were married off. Life expectancy for adults was between 20 – 30 years old, with the wealthy making it up into the 40’s. If dysentery, ergotism, or gonorrhea didn’t kill them war was never far off. Everyone thought that they had their lot in life and there was nothing to be done about it. Not Chris. He wanted more. He believed there was more and was determined to prove it. He was self-taught, survived an attack at sea from French privateers, as well as the shipwreck that required his staying afloat on a piece of wood before swimming to shore. None of that stopped him. He was told no again and again, yet never accepted it as an answer. England, France, and Portugal all said no. After over 7 years of persistence, he found a way to do what he wanted. He found a way.
You have been told again and again CrossFit is dangerous. Your peers wonder why the hell you “do that to yourself” everyday. Your doctor warns you of your imminent injury and subsequent demise. Everyone thinks your nuts for going through with it. Much like Columbus’s peers in his day, your coworkers and family members think you have no idea of the enormity of the task that you are about to undertake. Their opinion is that you, too, are greatly underestimating the circumference of the earth. But much like Chris you were determined and you made a landing. You came ashore and planted your flag in a space that was as alien to you as was the new word to him.You found a way.
Reason Number 2 to love Chris: You would still be doing curls in the squat rack.
Yes, yes, yes, everyone knows that Columbus didn’t discover America. He landed on an island that is part of the Bahamas, landed in Cuba, and in various points along the South American coastline. We also know that he wasn’t the first European to land in the new world (the Vikings came ashore in the 10th and 11th century, albeit well north of the Bahamas!) What he did do was singlehandedly forever change the face of the world by ushering in a new age of discovery and European conquest. I know that the last phrase is a tough one for some of you, “European conquest”. Try to get over it as you sip your Starbucks while surfing the net from inside your Subaru. Like it or not, every single luxury and privilege you enjoy would not be here if weren’t for Chris and the revolution he started.
CrossFit is as American as apple pie. It was born of sweat and blood right here in the United States of America in the great state of California by none other than Coach Greg Glassman. Not France, not England, not Africa. CrossFit came to life because of the American characteristics of hard work, vision, and creativity. CrossFit exists because Coach Glassman believed there was more and he was determined to find it. If it weren’t for Chris setting sail, and Greg in his footsteps, your Monday morning WOD would still consist of 20 min of treadmills and 3 sets of curls in the squat rack.
Reason Number 3 to love Chris: All those peaceful Indians weren’t all that peaceful.
In order to make themselves feel better, the Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers have taken to perpetuating this notion that the tribes of the Americas (both North and South) sprouted forth from the ground like delicate flowers. Nothing could be further form the truth. Like all of mankind, they yearned for more. They sought power, expansion, and wealth (in what ever form they believed it to be). The Mayans, Incas, and Aztecs all practiced conquest, slavery, and human sacrifice, with the Incas specializing in child sacrifice. If you are foolish enough to think that the tribes in North America were any different I beg you to do some research. The Comanche are probably the most notoriously bellicose and brutal, but there were plenty others. Torture, rape, mass killings, and slavery were the norm. I’m neither condoning nor condemning any of it. Facts are facts. This was the way of the world. We weren’t planted like seeds growing forth form the lands upon which we inhabit. They were fought for, tooth and nail. Some people won, some people lost. Be glad it is you that can sip that latte after a 21-15-9. And tip your hat to Chris while you’re at it. I’ll bet he would have beaten your Fran time.
LIVE – GET STRONG – WIN