I guess global warming has been on my mind. Here's a little story to go with it.
Carl was reviewing his notes for tomorrow’s lecture.
This stuff is so stale and dry. How do I make it come alive to my students? How do I make it real, and believable? After all, it really happened. Flesh and blood humans -- no different -- from us believed and, worse, acted on their beliefs. No matter how implausible it sounds, it was real.
And with these thoughts he hatched his plan.
“Hey Jackie. Do you have a minute?”
“I want to run something by you.”
“Does it have to be now?”
“I’d like it to be, I’m trying to get something ready for class tomorrow.”
“Do I have to come there?”
“Yes. I haven’t printed it out but have it up on my desktop screen.”
Jackie, slowly and begrudgingly, made her way to Carl’s office.
“OK, let me read this to you and tell me what you think.
I believe I’m stronger than nature, the earth and the universe. Whatever makes more money, power and praise for me is good. The earth will yield to my wishes and commands. I believe we can pollute our way to prosperity.
I believe that whatever I say, do, or think is true – even if it’s the opposite of something I said, did or thought a minute ago or the opposite of something I will say, do or think a minute from now. If I said it, did it or thought it, it’s true.
I believe I have infinite wisdom and do not have anything to learn from history, science, books or from anyone past, present or future. I’m divinely inspired.
I believe my followers will always believe me no matter what happens.”
“It’s not supposed to be funny. Sound like anyone you know?”
“Not really. What’s the point?
“Well about 100 years ago, early in the 21st century, there was a one-term president who may not have said this, but certainly lived by these rules. And he convinced almost 63 million people to elect him."
“That sounds far-fetched. But why are you going to share this with you students?”
“Well, as implausible as it sounds, this really happened. And we are paying the price for it today. We shouldn’t forget.”
Monday, Carl arrived early dressed in an early 21st century suit covering a padded belly. His necktie was red and tied so that it hung below his crotch. As the students arrived, they knew something was up.
Where does anyone get clothes like that today? In a museum?
As the class began, Carl began to read:
Someone in the class let out a giggle. As Carl read the second paragraph, someone snorted, and belly laughter erupted nearly drowning out the last line.
As the commotion died down, a brave hand was raised.
“Teacher, what are we to take from this? Is it a joke? Will it be on the test?
“It’s no joke. People actually thought and acted this way early in the last century.”
“But teacher everyone knows that these beliefs are wrong.”
“Well you’re right … we do have a different set of beliefs and values. In general, polls show that 80% of us hold the following beliefs as values:
· I believe in the collective wisdom of my fellow citizens.
· I believe good will prevail.
· I believe in the creativity, advancement and progress of humankind.
But beliefs are not the same as facts. Beliefs can only be tested with evidence, experience and time. Ultimately, truth will prevail regardless of what we believe.”
“But teacher, how is this relevant for present day life on Enceladus?”
“It’s just this…the story of life on Earth is not a myth. For a couple of million years the planet was habitable and for 10,000 years it was a paradise for human habitation. Now, we know that Earth has lost its water, lost its atmosphere and can no longer support life of any kind, much less human life. Humanity there just woke up too late. Our ancestors were to be the vanguard of new civilizations as the planet died. And they were. Unfortunately, we 800 living on Enceladus are the only ones left. Seven billion of our kind perished as Earth became too hot and died as a habitable home.”
With that, the students of Plymouth II middle school went quiet. There was nothing left to do but don the protective gear and quietly exit through the airlock to the next class.