Natural Selection

By F. Mends.

Theme: Populism. Originally created for @looseconvos.

The young boy’s eyes lifted languidly, glancing at the clock. The secondhand seems to take an eternity to tick . . . tick . . . tick . . . 

“History class is such a waste of time,” he mused. “I wish I was playing on the playground. What if we could have double the recess and no history class?”

The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. A broad smile lit his impish face. “I’ll run for president.”

The bell rang, and the young boy dashed to the playground to tell his 3 best friends about his idea. The other boys looked at each other and began jumping up and down in the air in unison, shouting and cheering. 

Other kids noticed the commotion and ran over to the group of boys. The kids whispered excitedly to each other, “Can you imagine twice the time for recess?” They began to chant the young boy’s name. 

The young boy looked around with wonder at the kids and began to dream of all the candy he’d collect from them once he wins. 

“What else do you want?” The young boy yelled to the crowd. 

“Free lunch!” A fat boy yells. “Free lunch it is!” The young boy says.

“Big umbrellas for the lunch benches!” A tall girl exclaims.

“And so it will be!” The young boy declares. 

But another little girl stands apart, peering quizzically at the group of kids. She hates her boring history class too. She adores recess. But looking at the young boy granting wishes to this crowd makes her feel queasy. 

The little girl discusses the situation with her grandfather. “Little one,” he says, “if your classmates are favoring the boy’s ideas, there must be a true problem. As I have always told you, if YOU have a problem, YOU must look in all 4 corners of the room to create your own solution. Ask for help if you need it, but expect no one to solve your problem for you.”

The little girl doesn’t understand this advice but the next day, she visits the library to research how kids around the world deal with boring history classes. 

The little girl scours school websites for information on how their classes are organized. Many schools are completely different from hers. The kids look happy in the pictures. 

She compiles a list of these solutions and presents them to her favorite teacher at school. “Your solutions could work. Why don’t you run for president too?”, teacher says. 

“But I can’t win,” she protests. “I can’t fulfill the kinds of wild promises the little boy is making.”

“Neither can he.” 

The little girl doesn’t know how to respond to this but she decides to wait and see what will happen. 

The little boy becomes class president. Of course, a double recess period and no history class were never going to happen. The school day remains the same.

The girl is now the one glaring at the secondhand ticking slowly on the clock. Suddenly, the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.

She shifts her focus back to the teacher and begins to take notes furiously. She repeats this in all her classes. 

A year later, she’s in a new school far from home. This school has a class schedule identical to one of the favorites she researched in the library that fateful afternoon. 

Today, she is a strategy consultant for school districts around the country considering alternative school curricula.

Save yourself now, save your people later.

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