March 2015


The important thing to remember is that there is a rational answer to every question.

“Teacher, they’ve been draining my blood for a long time now. I’m starting to feel weak. When will it stop?”
“So you want the people who pump your blood to lose their jobs? And the people who transport it, and sell it? What do you think that will do to the local economy?”
“But I will probably die if this goes on.”
“Well, the free market gods don’t owe you your life. How selfish can you be?”

“Teacher, our food is trash. Can we request better quality food?”
“You do realize that will make it more expensive, right? Is that you what you want, for everyone to have to pay more?”
“I guess not.”
“Exactly.” *dangles smart phone in front of student* “Now look at the shiny toy and relax…relax…”

“Teacher, I’m ill. Do I have the right to medical care?”
“Oh, sure–medical care! What will you ask for next? Free Internet? A limo and a mansion? Why do you want to get something for nothing?”
“But I work for you.”
“So? I don’t have to give you enough to live on in return.”
“I don’t think I like this arrangement.”
“If you don’t like it, move on. Find someone else.”
“All the other free market gurus are assholes too. I don’t think they’d treat me any better.”
“That’s not my problem.”

“Teacher, I’ve lost my retirement money in the stock market.”
“Well, that’s your own fault. You chose to invest it.”
“So you’re saying I should keep my money out of the stock market?”
“Of course not! You can’t do that. If you don’t invest, you’ll never have enough for retirement.”
“Huh, I’m confused. Now what?”
“It’s up to you! Isn’t it great to have all this freedom?”

“Teacher, I’m working harder and harder, and barely surviving. I’m not able to afford health care, or an education, or a retirement. I’m paying a fortune for wars around the world. I need your help…what am I supposed to do?”
“You’re supposed to show gratitude for how great your life is! Say thank you.”
“Thank you, Master.”

The two ladies are older of age, very elegantly dressed and extremely, extremely nice.

“Oh no, not them again.”

“Hi!” I peer through my half-opened door.

“Can we invite you to a party celebrating Christ? We…”

“Sorry, not interested.” I quickly close the door. What the hell is wrong with these people? It’s a beautiful Saturday and I had been relaxing with my feet up and wearing my most loose-waisted pair of pajamas. Why do they need to go around trying to push their beliefs on everyone else? If I want to join their religion, I’ll join their religion. I shake my head with disdain as I shuffle back to my bedroom.

But now, I have to learn to be more like them.

I’ve gotten involved with volunteering for some local causes. I haven’t gone door to door yet–although I’m sure that’s coming. Right now, I’m just the annoying person who calls your family around dinnertime.

This means that I have to learn to be persuasive. To be confident about what I believe.

In other words, I have to learn to evangelize.

***

“Oh, no…not them again.”

“Hi, do you have a moment to talk about climate change?”

“No, I don’t. Climate change doesn’t exist. It’s a myth.”

“But all the scientists say…”

“Yeah, sure. Did you need to interrupt my weekend to tell me about your fairy tales?”

“We’re only trying to save the world.”

*sound of slamming door*

***

So, do I have the guts to face this kind of rejection? Especially when it comes to issues I care deeply about?

Perhaps it would be easier to proselytize about something a little more frivolous.

“Do you have a moment to talk about how delicious dark chocolate is?”

Or, even better:

“Do you have a moment to talk about cute kitten videos?”

I bet nobody would close their door to that. And that makes me kind of sad.

Scary as it may be, I hope I will go out there and discuss the things that really matter.

The man being interviewed clears his throat thoughtfully, as he ponders the really big dilemmas. Does alien life exist out there in the universe? Will we find it–or will it find us–one day?

I think the entire conversation is silly. We’ve been receiving alien transmissions for a long time. All I have to do to hear them is turn the radio dial.

“Who knows if the theory of evolution is true? And who cares? Why would you even ask anyone about it…it’s such a gotcha question!”

“Kbbhhlth…zgfffx…Women who want equal pay are angry feminazis….”

Somewhere in the darkest reaches of space, a planet is spinning wildly. Its empty canyons echo with the sounds of Joni Ernst’s manic laughter, its silence occasionally interrupted by the sobbing call of the orange-hued Boehner. It’s beaming its signals back to the reality I inhabit. Its messages are enigmatic and difficult to decipher.

“It was a good decision to go into Iraq…bleep bleep blorp…”

What in God’s name are these lifeforms trying to say? Either this is a civilization so advanced that I am unable to follow the twists and turns of its logic, or these aliens have spent such a long time breathing in their own unique atmosphere that it has driven them nuts.

The serious question is, why do I continue to spend my time intercepting their radio communications, trying to make sense of the garbled noise they broadcast? I could listen to NPR, which reports on actual Earth news as opposed to that of an alternate universe. The NPR hosts speak in measured, reasonable tones. The guests are experts in their field. They don’t scream at the people they disagree with, or break down weeping, or rave with excitement about the upcoming end of the world. So why do I change the station?

Could it be that I’m just a little bit crazy myself? Could it be that I have an attachment to my beliefs which is unreasonable, immoderate, irrational? Is it easier for me to identify with these strange creatures which lose their temper when they care too much, than with the humans who calmly explain how they feel?

Whatever the case, I will keep listening for the sounds of the insane planet, listening to it whirling in the darkness, while I sit in front of the radio and whirl around my own confused axis.