This is my 2016/2017 New Year’s wish…
May we never have aliens come to our planet to conquer us. We are too ripe for the picking. Far too often our very nature is poison fruit. Humanity is toxic to other lifeforms sometimes, but even more so to itself.
The usual SciFi formula is aliens come to our planet and just mow us down, try to terraform us out of existence, release some virus, and humanity wins the fight because they join together for the greater good. I think War of the Worlds may have had that formula down better than most. Defeat would more likely come by their own miscalculation than humanity’s efforts. After all, maybe Russians can effectively hack us…or not, but does anyone sincerely think some Jeff Goldblum-like guy can hack into their computers, or those computers are even remotely like ours? It took us years to get Mac and Micro somewhat compatible. And, being advanced, what if they happen to hack into our computers and find an advance copy of MicoShaft 2099 XE: the Planet Executioner’s Edition and we’re all immediately deleted?
But, more likely, they’d have no need of our programs, they’d have something far more advance that would greet Jeff’s attempt with some snarky alien speak that might translate into…
“We’re sorry, Mr. Goldblum, Ugly Alien 98-456 does not support your program.”
Upon dumping the trash our computers often ask, “Do you really want…” Their computer-like devices know better, and immediately obey. Any hesitation would be followed by some reaction far beyond any supposed Donald deplorable-ness, or possible Hillary nastiness.
However, if these aliens are smart about it; and I think being able to think beyond the supposed limitations of multi-solar system space travel pretty much defines “incredibly smart,” instead they’ll use our over the top passions, our endless number of prejudices, our vast propensity for animosity, against us.
No matter who you voted for, I think the 2016 election a great example of this. The very way we pick our most important leaders has come down to; not who might do the better job, but who can frame the other in the worst ways. Political office too often has become a prize won by encouraging the most hate. Too often these leaders remind me of the president in Mars Attacks: shallow, self serving. Indeed Jack played two roles in the flick with the same common human failing, the second being the kind of businessman who only sees the invasion as “opportunity” to scam others, despite, maybe even because, everything is falling apart and people are dying.
Sometimes comedy all too often mimics reality all too well.
I suspect they’d be wise enough to observe first, come to a more complete understanding than we have before jumping into some past wars. And many of our past wars might provide an obvious clue: the easiest path to defeat us would be to become our “friends” while pumping up inner conflict. Genocide, mass murder, slaughter becomes so much easier to ignore or marginalize when an ally does it, or encourages it. Think Stalin. Think selling gas to Saddam.
When humanity goes to war, even if the “better” side wins, there’s a long historical precedent of the winner becoming more like the enemy, and as self destructive. Bombing the populace, torture, were once considered some of the worst war crimes. Then we have demonizing one group so as to make any action taken against them acceptable; no matter how horrific. This is one reason why Hitler’s regime is remembered as one of the greatest collective evils humanity has ever participated in. Yet, they’re not the only ones: and the Nazis have almost become the cover under which the old USSR, the Khmer Rouge, China and many other nations, and despots, have crawled under. Their atrocities: almost forgotten. Meanwhile it seems demonizing becomes an excuse to violate basic human decency.
Though I would never suggest there’s never a group in any society that may seem like they invite demonization. I’m just not opening the floor for that discussion right now.
(Note: why is it “open the floor?” Wouldn’t participants in any Robert’s rules-based meeting, discussion, just fall through?)
In the first series of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game humanity joins together to defeat the Buggers, then Ender spends centuries at light speed atoning for how he contributed to humanity’s ultimate act of vengeance after that defeat: a failure to understand the enemy that led to genocide far worse than what they mistakenly did to us. In the sequels humanity struggles, and still fails, to understand the very nature of all the diverse sentient species spread across the galaxy.
How much easier is it to hate, turn the other into less than human caricatures, then paint them as all evil. I see it all the time in Facebook memes where the left, or the right, is to blame for everything bad. I see it inner party when hate for one person, Hillary, Bernie, Donald, means accepting every accusation, every frame and destroying those closer to you is more important than working together. We become like dogs who chase and swallow themselves tail first while those working against us cheer, and egg, us on.
Sometimes we’re like the extremely dysfunctional family where we believe the worst about those closer to us, but give undeserved breaks to those only interested in taking advantage.
Sometimes we’re all to ready to believe some “truth” that’s actually not truth at all, just convenient to what we are desperate to keep believing
Sometimes I wonder if they’re already here, we just don’t know it yet.
No, humanity needs no help obliterating itself, but latching on to our worse nature would sure would be a logical way to do it.
In Independence Day we only defeat alien conquerors once we understand who they are, their tech and how they think. All these heroic efforts require humanity working together. However, as of late, I’ve begin to question that Hollywood-based, puffy confection-like, story line.
So may you have a happy New Year. Hopefully dangerous space aliens will never arrive on our planet, our politicians are dangerous enough. And, also, I wish this year that humanity might work to eliminate some of its own toxicity, drain some of the poison from our passion-based fruit. Otherwise the only thing left for humanity to bite will be the dust.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved