Agape: In Search of Universal Love
from the novel, The Lodging for the Rose
Rolf. A. F. Witzsche
Story 21 - 'Empty' People
Story 21 - 'Empty' People
As we left the restaurant, where the city had hosted its welcoming dinner for us, a young woman approached us from behind. She thanked us for coming to her city. She told us that she was impressed by my analysis of what drives scientific development. She also told us proudly that she is the head instructor of the local college, a kind of university college, as she described it. She wondered if we would like to make a formal presentation along the same lines that we had talked about, to the whole college.
Jacky looked at Steve and grinned. Steve looked at me. "How about it, doctor?" he said and began to laugh.
"Tomorrow at two," I replied to the woman. "Before that, please join us on the ship for lunch. Oh yes, I also need you to supply some educational materials. I need two water glasses, empty. Four empty bottles, and for bottles filled with fruit juice or colored water."
The woman looked puzzled, but agreed.
She was precisely on time at noon the next day. Wai-ye showed her around on the ship. Lunch was set up on the upper deck; two kinds of rice, vegetables, fried fish, pastry from the market. It wasn't a fancy lunch, but the atmosphere made up for it. To be honored by this woman as our guest, somehow made the occasion special.
"What do you need the bottles for?" she asked during lunch.
"Knowing Peter," said Tony, "he will use these bottles to teach your students a lesson they will never forget for their entire life." He began to laugh.
She looked to me with a questioning look.
"You will see," I replied, "just trust me. Also, rest assured, what I present won't be hard to understand, but it will be profoundly significant to the students." Then I grinned, until she joined in. Finally, we all began to laugh.
At the school, it was I who was surprised. It seemed as if the entire school was assembled in the auditorium. There was standing room only, and even some of that was taken up.
I told them that would speak to them in very broad terms to illustrate certain principles. I warned them that the real world isn't as clearly delineated. Then I began.
"What is a human being?" I asked. "What sets us apart from every other living species on this planet? What is it that makes us human?"
Wai-ye translated the questions.
I told them the answer myself. I told them that our humanity lies in our ability to think and to understand complex phenomena by understanding the principles that govern them. We discern patterns of reality, discover principles, create hypotheses about a certain phenomenon, we test the hypotheses and refine them, and so we derive at an understanding of truth, of verifiable truth. The process is called scientific discovery. Then we build on this discovered truth. We create a culture for ourselves that is supported with industries and technologies that are all build on our scientific understanding of the truths that we have discovered. With these, we support our existence. Herein lies the proof of the truth. It becomes manifest in the state of our civilization. The process that enables us to do all this, and to carry it forward, we call humanist education.
I took a glass from the table and held it up. I told them that it is the task of humanist education to fill our individual glasses to the very brim with all the aspects that we need in our life, which set our existence apart from that of an animal.
"So, let's see what we need to put in there," I said.
I told them that we need to fill these glasses with the products of our scientific development. I told then that this development has certain spiritual aspects, certain physical and technological aspects, certain cultural aspects, and certain sociological aspects, each of which has a unique type of science associated with it.
(c) Copyright 1998 -
Published by Cygni Communications Ltd. North Vancouver, Canada