Here's something that I wrote back in June 2015. I found it recently as I have been looking through my saved writings and felt that, given the current political climate, it is just as relevant today as it was then.
When did it become okay to be uneducated? When did it become the norm, the preferred state of existence here in the United States? When did it become the desired status to not look beyond the borders of your own state, your own town, or even your own neighborhood? Why are the loudest voices in the room screaming at the top of their lungs about the small issues, and relegate to lunacy anyone who wants to look at the bigger picture?
I remember when I was attending high school in Alexandria, LA (Go Trojans!) in my World Geography class. It was mostly Sophomores, but Juniors and Seniors were in attendance as well. Our teacher decided to perform a simple poll of the class during the first week. It was to see the demographic of the travel the students had done to that point in their lives. We all started out by raising out hands, and we were to put it down as the teacher would expand the range of the geographical area based on the limit of our travels. For fun, he started out with our homes, as it was pretty obvious we all had as we were all at school. When he got to all that had left the town, a third of the class’s hands went down. At left the state, less than half the hands were still up. When it was down to left the country, I was one of the two hands that was still up. I put mine down when we got to the next and final question, have you been outside the continent. (My fellow international traveler had. My excursion beyond our borders was to Canada.)
Here I am, thirty some years out from that moment. And it still resonates with me. As I view it with my seasoned middle-aged eyes, I can see this as the beginning of where we are today.
Somehow, we have gotten to the point where truth and facts are only as good as the person who says them. Really? Last time I checked, truth is truth and fact is fact. Should it matter who says it? So, here is part of a commencement speech given to the class of Spring 2015,
“Along with the evidence of common sense, researchers have proven scientifically that humans are all one people. We’re a lot like dogs in that regard. If a Great Dane interacts (can we say interact?) with a Chihuahua, you get a dog. They’re all of the same species. Same with us. The color of our ancestors’ skin and ultimately my skin and your skin is a consequence of ultraviolet light, of latitude and climate. Despite our recent sad conflicts here in the U.S., there really is no such thing as race. We are one species — each of us much, much more alike than different. We all come from Africa. We all are of the same stardust. We are all going to live and die on the same planet, a Pale Blue Dot in the vastness of space. We have to work together.”
Powerful word, are they not? So, if I told you that they were spoken by Bill Nye, an engineer and scientist, do they lose meaning due to the speaker? Well, in posting this on my Facebook page, mainly in response to the Charleston, SC shooting, I was informed, via comment to the post, that they lost depth and humility because they were. The comment was even getting likes. When I was past the initial stage of wanting to respond in a rash manner and allowing myself to return to a rational state of mind (looking at cute and funny animal pics helps) I wrote a response. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I normally would blow off something like this. But I felt I could not ignore this. This type of thinking is dangerous to intelligent thought and debate. Here is my response. “When the words are true, when a fact is a fact, does it really matter who said it? Whether this is said by Bill Nye, the Dali Lama, a scholar or my cat, the fact that we are a carbon based life form and carbon comes from dead stars is humbling to me.”