I’ll have what they’re having

Dave Ferry

I think flat-earthers are getting a bum rap.

I can hear the eyes rolling, but hear me out.

I understand why some folks are eager to go back to when things were “great” or whatever, but flat-earthers want to go WAAAYYY back.

There is something compelling to me about pondering the headspace of the modern flat-earther.

Try it. It only takes a second.

There, did you feel that? I think that’s what harmony feels like.

Imagine, if you will, the time when the concept of a spherical earth was widely disputed. I was told the Christopher Columbus version of the story as a kid, (in school!), and that turned out to be based on a story by Washington Irving (1783-1859) whose most notable works include “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” (twenty-year nap-guy and headless horseman-guy)

Irving infused “A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus” with a ton of imaginative flourishes; most famously the myth that Columbus defied the conventional wisdom of European thought in order to prove that the Earth was not flat. For most of my life, I believed this untruth and the only thing that corrected me was my own curiosity.

And Wikipedia.

As it turns out, it was actually ancient Greeks who figured this out somewhere around 500 B.C. and by 1492, it was widely accepted that the Earth was indeed round. Columbus mistakenly thought it was a much smaller circumference.

Between 3rd century B.C., the discovery of “The New World”, and the very first photograph of Planet Earth, taken from Apollo 17 on December 7, 1972, I can forgive the average human being for a degree of skepticism. Since flat earth theories persisted well into the 20th century, it’s safe to say that not everyone knew the truth for centuries.

I’m not looking to poke fun at genuine flat-earth advocates.

Despite mountains of, you know, rock-solid, scientific evidence, some people are just contrarian by nature.

Personally, I have been known to indulge myself in solipsism every now and then. Growing up, my personal interpretation of the world around me was often far more interesting than the real thing. Sometimes I wish I could live in the made-up world in my head where plumbing and electricity are magical and I could have finished that tunnel to China in the back yard if someone hadn’t stopped me.

Sure, some folks don’t know stuff, but it can be a worthwhile and entertaining exercise to imagine alternative possibilities.

For instance, there is the expanding Earth theory, which asserts that the “super-continent” known as Pangea, existed millions of years ago and explains plate tectonics and the drifting apart of the continents as proof that the planet is growing.

Going even further, there are expanding Earth devotees who believe in the existence of a hollow Earth; suggesting entire undiscovered ecosystems are evolving right below our feet, replete with dinosaurs and everything. The Earth’s core provides the energy required to sustain life. This concept was featured in last year’s Aquaman movie as “The Hidden Sea” toward the film’s final act.

An even more bizarre twist on that idea suggests that WE ARE living in the hollow Earth at this very moment. The sun, suspended in the center, IS the Earth’s core. This “planet” is so massive that we don’t register the curvature of the Earth is actually concave as opposed to convex.

Fun, but this one falls apart very quickly when trying to figure out whatever the heck the moon is. I suppose one could suspect the sun and moon were one and the same. Except that when both are visible in the sky, this presents something of a Clark Kent-Superman, same place, same time-type-conundrum.

And what are stars even? And what is space travel, a black hole into another dimension? Or just another government conspiracy?

I’m not exactly suggesting that any of these notions have any real value beyond providing excellent sci-fi fodder. But, you can’t argue that there isn’t plenty of precedent for the truth turning out to be WAY stranger in reality than anything anyone could possibly imagine.

Today we have particle accelerators such as The Large Hadron Collider at CERN in France and Switzerland. They are trying to detect Dark Matter; an unseeable substance that is said to bond atoms and molecules together to create various types of matter, i.e, us and everything around us!?!?

Dipping back into sci-fi tropes, one could say we “are meddling with powers we cannot possibly comprehend.”

Assuming scientists don’t destroy life as we know it and actually discover whatever matter is, I suggest we could all benefit from taking a little more comfort in knowing that we know nothing.

Or at least be content with what we do know.

There are few ideas in the public consensus as widely accepted as a spherical Earth. In fact, people of today so rarely agree on anything, that it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the flat Earth concept rose out of the ashes of antiquated thought and became more than just a punchline.

We are living in an unusual time. On one hand, all of the information we could ever need to make sense of everything is right at our fingertips; on another, all of the information one needs to support whatever eccentric interpretation of life suits you, also, right at our fingertips.

Sort of a…choose your own reality–reality.

Our current division and seeming inability to arrive at a consensus on anything are not at all, unlike the centuries mankind spent wondering beyond our current capacities of what lies beyond our existence.

We do not yet know what the modern equivalent of the photograph of The Earth from space will be that will force us to treat each other with respect and dignity. Surely, if that photo wasn’t enough to get all people to concur that taking better care of the planet is a pretty good idea, then I say strap in for more centuries of disagreeing.

As a kid, I didn’t get Star Trek at all. I was way more of a Star Wars guy. I didn’t understand the difference between Science Fiction and Science Fantasy. Now I understand Gene Roddenberry’s hopeful vision of an egalitarian society working together to seek answers.

Conflict is inevitable as we head trepidatiously into a new unknown.

When I meditate within the mind frame of a flat-earther, I try to imagine what it will be like when humanity wakes up to a new dawn where racism, sexism, homophobia, greed and general hatred are widely dismissed as antiquated.

I think that’s what harmony feels like.

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