Harlan? said Blurtso. Yes? said Harlan. Are you awake? said Blurtso. Yes, said Harlan. What do you think about politics? said Blurtso. Politics? said Harlan. Yes, said Blurtso, all the corruption, manipulation, and self-serving contentiousness. I don’t think politics is any different than anything else, said Harlan. What do you mean? said Blurtso. I mean that everyone, said Harlan, does what is in their own best interest. Everyone? said Blurtso. Sure, said Harlan. But some people, said Blurtso, are more compassionate than others. Yes, said Harlan, that’s because they define themselves differently. What do you mean? said Blurtso. Some people have a very small definition of themselves, said Harlan, they think of themselves as a narrow, individual entity, and they act in a narrow, individual way. Others think of themselves as a family group—immediate or extended—and act for the benefit of the family. Others think of themselves as an ideological group—a nation or religion—and act in terms of that ideology. Others go beyond borders, and think of themselves as the entire human race, or the entire planet, and act in the self interest of all humans, or of all nature. But everyone is still acting in their own self interest, it’s just that some selves are bigger than others. Hmm, thought Blurtso, I wonder how big my self is?
It’s like a sauna today, said Harlan. Yes it is, said Blurtso. I’ll bet it’s unbearably hot in here in the summer, said Harlan. In the summer, said Blurtso, Pablo opens the door and the windows in the roof. Too bad, said Harlan, we can’t do that with the earth. What do you mean? said Blurtso. You know, said Harlan, global warming and the greenhouse effect. What? said Blurtso. The heating of the earth’s atmosphere due to fossil fuels and deforestation. Is that bad? said Blurtso. Disastrous, said Harlan. Why? said Blurtso. Because, said Harlan, it leads to extreme weather, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and the extinction of species. Which species? said Blurtso. Many species, said Harlan, penguins, seals, turtles, flamingos, salmon, clownfish, koala bears, polar bears. Polar bears? said Blurtso. Yes, said Harlan. I like polar bears, said Blurtso. So do I, said Harlan. We should do something, said Blurtso. Yes, said Harlan, we should.