In the Norton Anthology introduction of Michel de Montaigne in his Of Cannibals we read, “Contrary to popular conceptions, although it was a period of expanding intellectual and geographical horizons, the Renaissance was, on the whole, a profoundly intolerant age.” This notion is a surprising one to me and the more I thought about it the more it made sense. Every empire at the time was searching for Brave New World’s but only in the name of wealth and colonialism. New people and worlds were destroyed rather than explored. In Shakespeare’s Tempest the character of Caliban comes to my mind. We are presented with a monster and we are left with that label. However, I would always find myself pitying Caliban. He was a native of the island and was for all intents and purposes, enslaved by the newcomers to his island. Thinking about our own day and age, I would like to believe that we are more open minded and better off in our own modern day renaissance than those of the old. However there are events happening today that I feel are relevant to this topic.
In our American society we have a large collection of people of different races, beliefs, and creeds. Are we just as intolerant as people before us? On the news the Charlestown Massacre shows us the ugly face of racism still plaguing our society. The only actions I perceived to have been taken after this event were friends and families of those affected were drawn together and the rest of the state moved to remove a flag. Zeba Blay of the Huffington Post wrote, “The people of Charleston rejoiced after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag at the state capitol, and rightly so… Yet it's important to remember that this gesture, while significant, does not fix the underlying issue: deep-seated, institutional hatred and inequality.” I don’t claim to have the answers on how to fix racism and hatred in America. I only wish to bring forth the idea that the old renaissance and our modern age renaissance should try to be different in that while one explored new worlds and destroyed them, the other should explore them, embrace them, and seek mutual understanding.
Blay, Zeba. "Taking Down The Confederate Flag Won't 'Solve' Racism." The Huffington Post.
TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 July 2015. Web. 08 Sept. 2015.
Connell, Eileen. "The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The 16th Century: Topic 2: Texts
and Contexts." The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The 16th Century: Topic 2:
Texts and Contexts. Norton and Company, n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2015.