Deb Reich
It's not the people... it's the paradigm.

Kindergarten on an alien planet

Ms. Brilliantine: Good morning, class. TGIF – Thank Grandma It’s Friday!

Class: (gleeful shouting including “We love Friday!”; “We love Grandma!”; “We should do Friday every day!”; and from the class wag, “A brilliant morning to ya, Ms. Brilliantine!”)

Ms. B: Today we will continue our Question & Answer game about the cultures of that bizarre planet Earth, one of those rare Blue Marble worlds. We are up to their so-called 21st Century, as it was termed by the then-dominant “Western” culture. Is everybody ready?

Embed from Getty Images

Class: (more gleeful shouting, including “Ready!”; “Let’s go gettum!”; “Our teacher is the BEST!”; etc.)

Ms. B: Okay then (turning to her robo-aide): Cinzano, will you kindly monitor the visual display screen?

Cinzano: (slight buzzing, then): Yup, I’m on it. (Takes their place next to the visual display screen)

Ms. B: Okay then, who wants to go first?

Class: (more happy shouting, mostly “I do! I do!” and “Me! Me! Me!”)

Ms. B:  Okay, how about… (surveying her classroom of youngsters of varying genders and targeting one of the quieter children): …you, Starshine?

Starshine (wipes her nose on the back of her hand, stands up): Well… I was wondering…

(Ms. B nods encouragingly, smiles kindly)

Starshine: Why did the bleached people think they were better than everyone else?

Ms. B: (unfazed): The bleached people?

Starshine: Yes, you know… the ones who were not black, dark brown, light brown, pale yellow, bronzed, red, or any of those other neat colors… The colorless ones were so white, I thought maybe they were bleached.

Ms. B: What made you think that, Starshine?

Starshine: Well… when we studied about that Orange leader, you know, the one famous for lying all the time? Who hated the beautiful brown and black people?

Ms. B: (nods encouragingly) Yes?

Starshine: Well… I remember when that global pandemic began, not long before he was disgraced and went to prison… a bit before that, he suggested that people drink bleach or something like that to kill the Covid virus. So I thought maybe some of them did, and maybe they turned white? If they survived?

Ms. B: Starshine, that is a very creative line of thought. It shows great imagination and I’m proud of you. And in many respects it accords well with the historical facts – although when humans drank bleach, they generally just died, and the so-called white ones were already white before the Orange leader came to power… But yours is a great story line and I think you deserve a big fat gold star.

Cinzano (at the visual display board): I’m on it, Ms. B. We’ll put it on a bleached background (winks at Starshine) so it can really stand out.

Starshine: Wow! Thanks, Cinzano. But Ms. B (turning to teacher), I’d still like to know why those bleached-looking people thought they were the best ones? I mean, from the Images archive we saw, I thought all the other ones with those beautiful colors looked way better. So what was up with that? What was so great about being bleached? I mean, bleached-looking?

Ms. B: (sighs) Well, children, that’s a very good question. No one has been able to answer it definitively, and the self-congratulation of the pale-white group has remained a mystery to this day.

Class: (listening)

Ms. B: But maybe some of you will go on to study multi-galactic cultural studies when you are older, and maybe you will unravel that mystery with your research, or during deep meditation find an answer staring you in the face. There are many paths, and perhaps one of them will lead someday to unlocking that particular mystery.

Class: (thinking it over)

Ms. B: And now, everyone, I think it’s time for some lemonade and outdoor sports. What do you say?

Class: (gleeful shouting)

Cinzano (under their breath): Why not. That Orange leader has already had way more attention than he deserves (and then, aloud) – so let’s go rock some volleyball or something, everyone! (cheerful vibrating and squeaks)

(noisy class exit)

…to be continued.

About the Author
A native New Yorker, by profession a writer, editor, and translator, my passion after nearly forty years in Israel/Palestine is to explore how we might craft a better shared future by discarding the paradigm of enemies – an obsolete social design, now highly toxic. Read more in my book, No More Enemies, available on my website or from online booksellers.
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