The Great Achievement

Ir took a long time, but there is no question but that the sailing ship, in her five-thousand-years’ sailing,

particularly in the latter half of the millennium now ending, transformed the condition of mankind and its understanding of itself,

bringing the peoples of the Earth into awareness of each other.

The quest for the unity of mankind is an ancient one, one whi ch we are still pursuing, sometimes by very doubtful means,

and with ends in view whi ch are sometimes even more questi onable.

For good or for ill, this bringing together of all peopl es was pursued by peopl e in ill-found littl e ships seemingly quite inadequate to confront the sea,

using crude instruments and often mistaken information to make their difficult voyage.

 But as we have by now seen in this narrative, there is much to admire and to lea rn from in the sai ling of these determined people in their scrawny vessels.

And on occasion there are things to rejoice in , in the indomitable spirit, the rugged endurance and the hi gh endeavor of these seafarers before our time,

and in th e truths of th eir lives, rendered clearer by the passage of time.

As result of th eir sailing, the seaports of these peopl es that mastered the sea highways fl ourished, not just in the bread-andbutter matters that underli e all human existence,

but in the deeply human and entrancing frescoes of the Minoan cities we have explored together,

the soaring artistic expression of the Italian seaport cities in the time of the Renaissance-a breakout nourished and inspired.

by seaborne trade and intercourse, if there ever was one-and the sense of humane values,

individual rights, and government in th e service of the publi c will which have been uniquely advanced and defended.

by seafaring peoples in the past few hundred years particularly.

That story is one I would like to return to in some perhaps surprising parti culars-surprising only because of the new perspectives opened by a story viewed in millennia and centuries.

Let’s begin with the problems, indeed the crimes and brutality that marked the long voyage,

which certainly did not turn out well for all the peoples involved at every stage.

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