Back in the Habit #5 : The International Flat Earth Society

I had infiltrated the International Flat Earth Society. I was being accepted as one of them. I was not receiving the sceptical gazes I had imagined based on my experience of the various protective niche churches. It was all Zen smiles and gentle-padding feet so far. A centre of calm. These were a people who had goodness and healthy intentions at the heart of their system. Was it really a system? They certainly had meetings and activities. They had calendars too, though they didn’t look like ours. Somehow they seemed to make a convincing amount of sense; the pieces of card representing the days of the year hanging like bullet-time butterflies throughout the room suggested an urge toward creativity that had not pervaded the world outside here, in which science and nature were fantastic enough that we had become complacent. Contentment is the enemy of invention.

“Good morning, Madam. We have been anticipating your arrival. We would love for you to meet the group.”

This was not what I was expecting at all. How could so many individuals who looked so open-minded believe in something so nonsensical, something that argued defiantly against all evidence that had come to light so long ago, and since? How, and why, had they chosen to live in a static point in the past at which nothing was progressing. The world was literally not turning for them. Surely they were living in Limbo.

And yet they were intelligent, lateral thinkers, radical and persuasive.

“Well, have you ever watched a ship drop over the horizon? Have you followed it to that point and seen the world curve?”

No, I had not. Fair enough.

I felt on edge again; I did not want to be brain-washed. I came here to learn, to criticise, to challenge. I did not want to be challenged in return.

I moved through the activity areas; the library – not limited, but superseding expectations again, full of colourful wonders existing only outside the generally accepted collective understanding. I felt annoyed that these had been kept from me; even though it was all likely propaganda, why should I not be able to access it back in the outside world? Was I not coming from the world of no limitations, uninhibited learning and understanding, in which knowledge and truth and The Full Picture were prized above everything else; even, occasionally, at the price of people’s lives? I was afraid to open any of the books.

I continued to wander through their realm, feeling fascinated and hungry, and yet growing grumpy, irritable, at the fact that there was all this stuff that had been hidden from Us Outside, from the everyday Joe like me who was ready and willing to soak up all that the world had to offer.

‘The world’. I kept coming back to this name, as if it was a being, a proper noun, a ‘one’. I realised that I had been thinking of it differently; there was a world per society, per path of thought, per perspective. It was then that I realised I could no longer hold my silence in this place. I could not pretend. This was a company full of pretenders, of people silencing any thoughts that went against the society’s collective belief.

Frustrated, I raised what was probably a look of thorough annoyance and discontent to meet a kindly counterpart on the face of my guide.

“What must you think of us?!” I cried, and I tore down one of their smug floating dates, crumpled it assertively, stuffed it into a jacket pocket, stumbled slightly as I turned in my thick walking boots, and ran from the building.

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