Sweeping Down the Mightiest Walls
Let’s be clear. I have some idiosyncrasies in life and especially when teaching. One is that I want all students to learn, which means that cutting and pasting something from the Internet without citing it and using quotation marks is not okay. Another of my concerns is that some students think that a due date for an assignment means only a suggestion about when they need to turn in the essays.
On the brighter side of my idiosyncrasies, I want my students to become all they can be. I want them to ponder, think, and wonder about their meaning of being.
My first announcement of the semester, which spells out a handful of requirements like not plagiarizing, getting things in on time, etc., ends this closing comment.
If you deal with the above handful of requirements, you will avoid my wrath and experience one of the best classes you have ever taken. That is a promise and not a hyperbole!
Well, that is my welcome to the class! Yeah, I know what you are thinking, and I can see you rolling your eyes back into your head while reaching for the phone to switch to Horticulture Made Simple--101. Don’t switch. This course will change your life.
I meant what I wrote about this not being a hyperbolic statement. If the students adhere to the course’s game plan, the course will change their lives for the best.
This is a copy of what one of my students just wrote to me as we ended the spring semester.
I’m honestly writing this to you with teary eyes which I never expected. I want to thank you for this semester for many reasons. You have probably taught me more this semester than any of my high school teachers has. And I’m not simply talking about religions, you opened my mind to how other people are, and how we need to empathize. You supported me during this rough time and inspired me. Although I haven’t seen you in person, I feel like I know you and have a great appreciation for you. I will always keep you in mind and stay in contact to update you about my journey! Thank you 🙂
That note makes up for all the other nonsense I get from a handful of other students. I want them to think about life and their place in the world. What I didn’t want to merely repeat something someone else said. This is especially true since many other writers, philosophers, and theologians wrote a century or millennia ago.
Enter the Cosmic Calendar. This calendar is new to nearly all the students. Talk about eye-opening experiences.
Carl Sagan expressed the concept of the Cosmic Calendar in both his book, The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence and his television series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Sagan reduced ca. 14-billion years since the Big Bang to the present-day into a calendar of 365 days. The Cosmic Calendar allows us to conceptualize the vastness of time and our place in the universe.
• The top third of the Cosmic Calendar is January through December. Each month shows what was happening in the universe during that month.
• The middle third is the month of December.
• The bottom third is the last minute of the last day of December...as in the final 60-seconds of the Cosmic Calendar.
I want my students to ponder their reason for being. They came into this world on the last day of the year, the last hour, the last minute, the last second, and the last 0.23 of a second in the Cosmic Calendar. Their lives will be the same amount of time on the Cosmic Calendar as it takes to blink eyes once.
It seems a gross waste of time to repeat what someone said a millennium or more ago about the meaning of being. I will find out sooner than any of my class about what, if anything, there is beyond death. I have done the dance with death twice and see life differently than I did prior to my dances. I am far more interested in the known present than repeating statements made long ago or what people think about what occurs after death.
Some of the sages of the past have uttered their truism for all the world to hear. For example, the world was created in six days, women are second-class, and other people that are not like them racially.
The ancient Greeks used the word ὕβρις, which we know as hubris. Hubris is the mindset of people that they know everything. They arrogantly diss those that don’t think like them. The purpose of our being wasn’t something that some deity created the universe 14 billion years ago so that Homo sapiens could migrate out of Africa in the last couple of minutes at the end of the Cosmic Calendar year.
I want my students to think outside the box of their world. We can create a reality for all of us in our world by reaching out to others and helping them journey down the yellow brick roads of their lives.
Bobby Kennedy said decades ago. “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Each of us can discover our reason for being.