Glenn Reynolds quotes Samuel Eliot Morison’s Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus:

…a Spanish caravel named Nina scudded before a winter gale into Lisbon with news of a discovery that was to give old Europe another chance. In a few years we find the mental picture completely changed. Strong monarchs are stamping out privy conspiracy and rebellion; the Church, purged and chastened by the Protestant Reformation, puts her house in order; new ideas flare up throughout Italy, France, Germany and the northern nations; faith in God revives and the human spirit is renewed. The change is complete and startling: “A new envisagement of the world has begun, and men are no longer sighing after the imaginary golden age that lay in the distant past, but speculating as to the golden age that might possibly lie in the oncoming future.”

Reading this, I wonder whether the opening of another new frontier would (or will) have a similar effect on us today. I know better than to underestimate the forces of gloom and rust and the West’s painstakingly cultivated suicide wish. For those — probably few — who heed the call of new places and go, however, I think the revelation of a way out will be nothing short of transformative.