It was my junior year at University of Michigan, then a quite naïve student pursuing an Atmospheric Science degree. To meet my Engineering Humanities requirement for my degree, I had signed up for Alternative Futures, an Engineering Humanities class, expecting some futuristic vision of high-tech wizardry, but (as it turns out), quite open to whatever it might bring.
This class was taught by Professor Henryk Skolimowski, who looked the part of one who might teach such a class, with a definite air of intensity with warmth, and a bit of a mischievous twinkle in his eye, and to whom I took an instant linking.
On the first class Prof. Skolimowski led off spellbindingly, with that stereotypical future diving tool, a crystal ball, and went on to engage us to see which among various scenarios we though most likely to be. Disaster, was the top choice, overwhelmingly (laughing).
So Prof. Skolimowski threw us for a loop straight away. And further engaging us to explain why we thought the future would come to disaster, led us right into a very different and unexpected slant on reality. Into which the naïve student flew quite willingly, even excitedly, getting a helping of timeless wisdom, presented entertainingly and engagingly, to replace some of the old naivety and dogma, which I was quite ready to move past.
The timing was just right. At that time I was just forming my own points of view; just beginning to develop my outlook on life, beyond a mere echo of other influences. As much as Professor Skolimowski wanted to influence us, he never wished to turn out clones.
And so it went for the term, then another class called Technology and Man, and I kept in contact with my most influential professor, who in turn became a mentor, and eventually a friend: a friend who expressed concern when I was out of sorts due to various health-related issues that very much affected my frame of mind and very capacity for sound philosophy; and a friend who offered encouragement as I recovered and sharpened to new levels of clarity. A process which is ongoing.
It is said in the Tao The Ching: A poor leader is despised by their people, good leader loved by them, and the best leader one who is hardly noticed, the people believing they did it themselves. And so Professor Skolimowski led us: challenging us to form our views, with open hearts and open minds, and (I was to find) to live up to them.
May 4 was designated Eco Philosophy Day. My aim is for every day to be Eco Philosophy Day. While it would be folly to claim that I've lived it to perfection after all, even using these communication devices causes pollution had I not taken a certain class I might not even be mindful of this. As Henryk said, logos is the most subtle and all-pervading form of praxis. At very least I've produced a great deal less trash since taking Henryk's class. And am certain Henryk's spirit/energy is shining brightly as ever as we continue his Eco Philosophical legacy.