When I was a freshman in college, I was asked by one of my instructors to keep a journal as part of the requirements for my "American Renaissance" course. There was no requirement as to the content of this journal, and so I enjoyed myself immensely for the duration of this class, making sly comments and ruminations on the way my life was shaping up at that point. It was, in many ways, a proto-blog. One of the entries I remember best was my awestruck revelation of the lyrics to the nonsense song, "Mairzy Doats." I wrote: "I've just discovered that those words are 'mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.' How could I have lived this long and just discovered that these were the actual words to that song?" My professor read our journals on a fairly infrequent basis, just to see that we were meeting the mild goal of writing a page a week, which I managed to do daily. In the margin of my comments about "Mairzy Doats" he wrote in red pen: "My God - I'm seventy-two years old and I never knew that before."
Such is the nature of a liberal arts education. Fast forward to this past weekend, as my son was prattling on about how Disney had fabricated the whole "lemmings run to the sea" thing. This absurd function of nature has been a source of fascination for me, and has become a central metaphor for many of my philosophical rants. Political rants. Emotional rants. Lemmings rushing forward to their imminent demise. I confess that my initial response to my son's assertion was doubt, since he has also made Internet-based claims on the existence of a United Nations ban on stealth helicopters, among other big ideas garnered from the pages of Wikipedia. So I turned on our Internets, in hope of finding some sort of corroboration. As it turns out, there is plenty of it. I have lived my life to this point oblivious to the ruse that the Disney film "White Wilderness" played on the world's understanding of lemmings. Why shouldn't I trust a film that is part of the "True Life Adventure" series? Well, it turns out that those scenes showing those short-tailed voles committing mass suicide were faked. You can just rock me to sleep tonight. Disney? Manipulators of truth?
And so I am stuck with the flurry of images this experience provides: Mares and does may eat oats and little lambs may eat ivy, but it is the human who runs pell-mell to the brink of destruction to reach the keyboard that will provide them with the answers to the world's great questions.