A wide spot in my imagination.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hic sunt dracones

Turns out, the old mapmaker was right. In the early 1500s, a mapmaker got to the edges of his (or her) known world. Uncertain as to what lay beyond, the mapmaker wrote, "Hic sunt dracones." ("Here be dragons").

Evidently, those dragons are real. And they're in the subway tunnels of Washington, DC.

You see, a Maine Tea Party blogger recently passed on some directions to his compatriots headed to DC for an upcoming rally. The writer suggested some eateries to enjoy, some sights to see, and some places to avoid. Specifically, the blogger recommended that Tea Partiers avoid certain lines on the DC Metro (the subway system, which, during my ten years of living in DC, I found safe, clean, and reliable).

Parts of the Metro should be avoided, the blogger says. As rationale he provides this gem: "You don't know where you are, so you should not explore." (Translation: "Hic sunt dracones.")

What great advice. (Sarcasm intended.)

Imagine how different the world would be if only that wisdom had been shared earlier.

Instead of sending his disciples into all the world, Jesus would have instructed them to go only to their old haunts where safety was assured. Silly Jesus, encouraging exploration.

Imagine Isabella and Ferdinand counseling Columbus: "Yes, we'll finance your sailing trip, only stay where you can see the shoreline of Europe."

Or what about Horace Greely's advice, "Go west, young man, go west. Only don't go any further than the end of the street where you your momma and daddy can still see you."

Mother Teresa would never have venture to India. Having never been there before, she should never have gone to explore the needs of Calcutta.

John Kennedy's rhetoric would have been far more reasonable if he declared to the nation, "The Russians can have outer space. Americans don't know what's out there, so we'll just stay home and gaze at our collective bellybuttons."

Any parent, I'm sure, would be wise to follow this advice and pass it on: "No, you can't think about going to college there. That campus is over seven miles away from home. We don't know what's there. Don't explore."

History offers more examples, I'm sure. But if you'll pardon me, I need to go outside and put up a "Hic Sunt Dracones" sign at the end of my driveway.

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