JOHN WALLACE: Plan for the end of the world

GUEST COMMENTARY: A debate at Darton State College focuses on surviving an apocalyptic disaster

John Wallace

John Wallace

I had the pleasure of attending the Life Raft Debate at Darton College on Wednesday. I had gone to register for some classes and the class adviser was at lunch. I wandered over to the student hall. When I was here last, as a student over 15 years ago, the student hall was a snack bar, some chairs and a ping-pong table. It is now a world class student hall.

I see all these people headed upstairs and I think, maybe they are giving away diplomas or something. So, I follow them up to the second floor and it is packed with people standing around. I ask what is going on and I am told that there will be a debate about a meteor that hits the earth and most of the world is destroyed.

There are six survivors left in some high place and they see a life raft floating toward them. The people on the life raft say they only have room for one more and the six survivors state their cases why they should be “the one.”

We, the audience, are the ones in the raft and we will decide who gets in.

First of all, from an old fogie point of view, it was reassuring that so many students showed up for the debate. There had to be 500 seats. They were filled and another hundred were sitting on the floor watching. As I looked around, I realized it was what, in my day, we called a happening.

First to defend his existence was a professor of biology, who spoke of his knowledge of the cellular and molecular quantifications he could provide and how we would need air, water and glucose. Know what we won’t need where we are going? You.


She is an English professor. She said she could help with communications. A noble thought, but communications will not be high on our list of needs for some time. Hasta la vista baby!


Her husband, a journalism professor, spoke of his ability to keep everyone honest. Again , not high on our list of priorities when you will be on a first-name basis with every living person in the world. Hey, I got a news flash for you; you ain’t getting in the boat.


The EMS instructor brought his bag of tools and spoke of his ability to keep us healthy and pain free. Now there is something we will need. He just stepped into the on-deck circle.

The phys ed instructor spoke of his coaching skills, discipline, and success. Strike three! you’re out!

Who’s up next?

The math professor seemed like the most popular guy there. But math? He said he could show us how to build stuff and defend ourselves. I have a question: What is all of us minus you? That’s who is going to be in that life boat.

The devil’s advocate was funny and said it really didn’t matter who did and didn’t get on the boat since we were all going to die horrifying deaths anyway. Finally, some refreshing honesty.

I enjoyed it, it was a lot of fun and it made you think. Who would I want to survive with? Right off the top of my head I would think food, water and shelter. I will want a hunter/fisherman for my immediate food. Not something we have a lot of time to learn. I would like a farmer for long-term sustenance. We are going to need a teacher. And a religious leader. And an emergency room doctor. A scientist. And a politician who knows what our needs will be. And someone from the military who can set up camp in one day and have a functioning society. And half of them should be women. If they are all men, things is fixin’ to get ugly real fast.

I would like to see that debate. Maybe next year. We have all those people in town. Maybe we can take more than one on the boat.

So, at least someone is thinking about these things. I’d like to see the plans, but we will probably have to make them up as we go along. Hopefully, we will have learned what not to do next time. And who and what is important.

In case you were wondering, we picked the EMS guy to get on the boat.

John Wallace, of Leesburg, is employed with the post office.