A Purple Penguin

Dr. Albert Adler, teaching philosophy at Fragmented State University, turned from his blackboard to address his class. It contained an outline of the structure of a philosophical system:

5. Aesthetics
4. Politics
3. Ethics
2. Metaphysics
1. Epistemology

“And so you see, this language which seems so abstract, so academic, contains the elements of how thinking is done, not just by philosophers, but by everyone. Items one and two are the basis of all other thinking. Metaphysics is simply: “What do you think about God, man and the Universe?” If you are a living, breathing human being, you have some opinion, consciously or unconsciously. What philosophers deal with consciously, non-philosophers often resolve in the pit of their stomachs. Indeed, it is precisely the mark of an educated person to know what he is doing when he is doing it.”

His lecture for the day concluded, he went to the president’s office. Along with the other instructors, he was briefed on an upcoming historic event. Two years ago, explorers from the Sirius star system had arrived in their hyper drive spaceships, and had established a colony in Alaska, where they found the climate especially suited to them. A dozen of them had decided to enroll at the university, pursuing such courses as Philosophy, Sociology, and History. They had chosen an Indiana school because they perceived the Midwest as the most characteristic region of the U.S.A

The problem which concerned the president was the unusual physiology of these alien beings. They resembled nothing so much as a penguin. Instead of wings, they had long, thin, boney arms with four fingered hands, one of which fingers was an opposing thumb. And they were purple with speckles which looked exactly like polka dots.

Despite all the politically correct bushwah, the administration was concerned that these aliens would not be well treated by some students, and that there would be an embarrassing incident.

Subsequently, Dr. Adler was pleased to welcome one of these students to his Philosophy class. Dr. Adler had always found racism incredibly stupid. He was ten years old when it was called to his attention that there was prejudice against foreigners and race. He was dumbfounded, “How can you have it in for somebody because of something they have no control over?” he asked.

On a trip to China he was satirizing this attitude as he loved to: “Howcum people from foreign countries gotta be so different? Sheer perversity! Howcum they speak foreign languages? Cause they’re sneaky! That’s why! And howcum they get themselves born in a foreign country in the first place? Cause they’re smart alecks and trouble makers! That’s why!” He was gratified that one of the members of the tour who owned a factory on Taiwan had been listening and commented: “Unfortunately. Dr. Adler, too many people think that way.” Adler’s favorite saying was: “I don’t care what color someone is. I’d be happy to talk to a purple Penguin with pink polka dots, if I could have an intelligent conversation with him!”

Dr. Adler found his new student to be unusually perceptive and articulate, especially for one conversing in an unfamiliar language. His student was very puzzled by Earthling idioms; why, for instance, was a certain comic strip called “Peanuts”? He couldn’t figure out why “a knockout performance” didn’t put an audience to sleep just like “knockout drops” which did put people to sleep. And telling someone to “break a leg” seemed extraordinarily cruel!

Outside the classroom, they had many long, interesting discussions. While there were no “embarrassing incidents,” the Liberal students treated the visitors from Sirius with cold disdain. The fact that all the intelligent beings in their star system were Theists and considered “intelligent design” axiomatic was, to them, a real turnoff.

After months of study, the Sirian asked “Dr. Adler is Atheism some sort of mental disease, like Alzheimers? Atheists seem so delusional! They believe the Pentateuch is a product of four nonexistent documents. They believe your constitution contains the words “separation of church and state”. One fellow actually wrote to the paper “there is no evidence that the founders intended America to be a Christian nation and considerable evidence to the contrary.” That’s comparable to saying “There is no sand in the Sahara desert”. They insist that evolution is science, and that war never solved anything. They have more myths than your Greeks and Romans, but at least, Classical Mythology, while not true, is very poetic and often charming. Their myths don’t even have those good points. How can any rational being not believe in the Creator?

“I really don’t know,” Dr. Adler replied, shaking his head. “I am trained in logic and rational thinking, respect for facts, and respect for human life, as well as reverence for God. Atheists on the other hand, seem to get their values and ideas of history from Orwelle’s 1984.”

For all their talk of diversity,” the Sirian replied, “I sense that most of the are really put off by, I don’t know, my alieness I guess. I really appreciate your friendship and your acceptance.”

Well, I’ve always been this way,” Dr. Adler answered, “partly because I find so few people I can really communicate with. I certainly would, He continued with a dry smile, “rather talk to a purple penguin with pink polka dots that to an Atheist or a Liberal.”

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