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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Just Read It

     “That’s a baby dinosaur!” shouts a boy in the Creation Museum, “That’s a baby dinosaur!” Only the fossil he’s looking at is archaeopteryx, a bird, full-grown. It’s labeled clearly, but his mother does not correct him.
     At the Cincinnati Zoo, a bird exhibit includes some large bats. Three girls scream, “Bats! There are bats in here! Let’s get out!” I tell them, “Bats won’t hurt you. They don’t bother people.” One girl, eyes wide, asks, “They won’t kill you?” I assure her, “No. They mostly eat mosquitoes. Those big ones eat fruit. They’re called fruit bats.” “Ohh,” she says. “OK.”  

A pair of “takin,” a sort of mountain-goatish antelope from the Himalayas, gaze back at me and at a young man and woman holding clipboards. Students, apparently. They look at the critters and then at their clipboards. “Elk,” says the woman, “elk… elk.” I refrain from blaring, “Read the sign!”

     At an art museum in Sarasota years ago, a member of our business conference group asked who the man in the painting was. I told him, “It’s the martyrdom of St. Sebastian. He was shot with arrows.” “Oh,” said the fellow, “you know about art?” “Not much,” I said. “I read the sign.”
     That’s really all it takes.
     So much knowledge waits around us. You can pluck it like berries: tasty, fun, colorful, nourishing. It will fall into your hand. Dig deeper into books (my favorite), or instantly online. There are diamonds and silver and gold, all free. Yet so many remain malnourished and poor. And all they need to do is read the signs.

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