Nicholas Stern thought of his Dad as “The Question Man” because he always had an answer, no matter what question you asked. There wasn't anything Nicky's Dad didn't know. So it was natural that he came to him one day after school for some answers.
“Dad?” Nicky asked his father as he was bent over in the yard, pulling weeds.
“Yes?” It actually came out more as a grunt, but it sounded like “yes” to Nicky.
“If the world is round, why don't we all fall off of it?”
Nicky's father sat back on his heels and peered intently at his son, as though he was trying to make a decision.
“How old are you, again?” He asked Nicky.
Nicky puffed out his chest and said proudly, “I'm six...and three quarters.”
“Six and three quarters, eh?”
“Six and three quarters...” His dad peered left and right, checking to make sure no one was watching. After scouting out that they were truly alone, he crooked a finger for Nicky to come closer. Carefully, the boy moved up.
“Well,” his father whispered, “if you're six and three quarters, I guess it's time you knew the truth. BUT,” again his father took a furtive look around, “you did NOT hear this from me. You understand?”
Nicky nodded his head excitedly. He couldn't believe it, he was about to hear a grown-up secret!
“The reason people don't fall off the world is because it isn't really round at all. The world is flat.”
Nicky was confused. The world wasn't round? “But I have a globe, and it's round.”
“Exactly!” His father blurted as though Nicky had uttered something profound.
“I don't get it. The globe is round.”
“So the earth is round?”
“Nope. The earth is flat. The globe is round because it's a globe and globes are round.”
“But then why do they teach in school that the world is round?”
Again his father looked around very carefully. “Because the globe-makers won the election.”
Nicky's father sat back with an exasperated sigh. “Don't you get it Nicky? The globe makers won the election. They are in control and the people in control get to make the school lessons.”
“But why would they say the world is round if it's not?”
“Think about it son, they make a living selling GLOBES.”
Obviously seeing the confusion written on Nicky's face, his Dad tried again.
“Let's examine the facts. What do you see over there?” He asked pointing.
“Exactly. Good. Now,” he pointed again, “what do you see over there?”
Nicky squinted, this one was much further away. “Another tree?”
“Right! Now, if the world was round, don't you think that other tree would be lower, and you'd only be able to see the top of it?”
“I don't know.”
“Try it with your globe sometime. Use those GI-Joes I got you. You'll see when you put them on different parts and then look over the top, one will always be lower than the other, because one is always going to be downhill from the other.”
Now Nicky's father turned the other direction and pointed to the field that ran behind their yard. “Look as far as you can see, Nicky.”
“Okay.” Nicky looked as far as he could.
“What do you see?”
“Exactly!” His father fairly yelled in excitement.
“It's what you don't see that's important, Nicky.”
“What don't I see?”
Nicky's eyes opened wide in understanding. His father was right. He didn't see a curve. He should see a curve, right?
“Ever heard of the saying 'The Four Corners of the Earth'” His father continued. “How could something round have corners? And you said it yourself, if the world was round we'd all fall right off.”
Nicky understood now. His father had really opened his eyes to the lie. “Thanks Dad. You're the best!”
His father smiled at him. “You're welcome, son. You deserve the truth,” and, with that, he went back to pulling weeds.
Nicky ran into the house excitedly, letting the door slam behind him, he was in such a hurry. A few moments later the door flew open again and Nicky's voice yelled out to his father.
“Daaad! Mom wants to talk to you!”
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