Where’s the edge?

The world is not flat.

The easiest way to demonstrate that is with a simple question, one that challenges unexamined belief with the need to understand how things work. If it’s flat, there’s an edge. Where is it?

Once we understand how things work, we have a chance to interact with them. Not with memorization or rote or politics, but with practical effort.

First, though, we need to understand the mechanism.

If you want to take a hot shower, it pays to turn the hot tap on all the way until the water gets hot, then adjust the cold to end up with something comfortable.

That’s because the water that’s supposed to be hot, the water that’s stuck in the wall between the shower and the hot water heater, is cold. Once you flush out that leftover cold water, you’ll see the hot water arrive.

You don’t have to be a plumber to understand the system, you simply have to be curious. And willing to test to see what works.

The sun rises every morning. That doesn’t happen because the sun moves. It happens because the sun mostly stays still and the Earth rotates on its axis. No need for human sacrifice or much in the way of hope to see the sun rise again tomorrow. This used to be so controversial that it was seen as a matter of life and death. But once you understand the system, you can see that it is without controversy.

Too often, we take the lazy way out and teach our kids to memorize the status quo instead of challenging them to understand how the world works.

Too often, when the world around us changes, it’s convenient to stop looking for the edge, to blame the outcomes and fail to do the work to understand the system. We take the system for granted in every element of our lives, from our work to our morning shower.

The most pressing example: Climate change isn’t political unless we make it so. It’s everything around us and the world we live in, and understanding it is more urgent than ever.