WORDS: 1,702 — If all the accounts of aliens (the outer space kind) visiting our big blue marble over the millennia have been true one might wonder why there hasn’t been some more direct, more formal, contact with the human race… presumably in some “Take us to your leader.” celebratory event. Yet, there does exist some possible reasons why intelligent interstellar space travelers have not reached out to touch us, at least more formerly than just snatching the occasional human from rural America flyover country to study our sexual reproduction process. Us humans can barely live with each other, often times with great failure. So if there’s intelligent life out there they might be smart enough to consider us an evolutionary threat and leave us alone to our own devices… literally, devices we create to kill each other… and likely will do the same to those we encounter as we venture into the universe. Not an overly encouraging performance record.
In the movie Contact (1997), with Jodie Foster, she’s seemingly transported through some wormhole to another world where she encounters the image of her deceased father, an image conjured up by the aliens for the purpose of contact and communicating telepathically. In the ensuing dialog the alien “father” being remarks, “You’re an interesting species, an interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we found that makes the emptiness bearable, each other.”
Oh for sure all that is just Hollywood and a movie script but it’s difficult to deny there’s some essence to that description of “us” that some alien race just might give to us in their own database of alien contacts. Honestly, anyone can insert their own interpretation of the human race just as easily that is far more encouraging, and far more discouraging. Anyway, our problems.. and our successes… are not in the least about what unknown space aliens might think of us. Our earthly reality is definitely all about us… good or bad. I will borrow another quote from Contact (1997), this time from Matthew McConaughey’s character as a theologian… “Is the world fundamentally a better place because of science and technology? We shop at home, we surf the Web… at the same time, we feel emptier, lonelier and more cut off from each other than at any other time in human history.” Hollywood script or not, you can’t deny that there’s an element of truth to that observation, in America and certainly in the Western democracies in general, given our social changes, our family dynamics, our politics, religion, are undergoing immense change. To me it makes me wonder if our technology has reached a point where tech begins to defy our humanity, and then ending up defining our humanity.
Where I Get The Title For This Post…
As some of my more “mature” readers might recall, my title draws on the inhumanity of war as brought out in a book and through a biographical film documenting genocide. One illustrating the human propensity to kill for a cause and claiming the killings are just because of that cause, and the other illustrating the human propensity to allow hate and fear of another segment of humans to take hold to the point that all those humans must die en masse.
Recently I watched again the movie Gettysburg (1993), the movie version of the 1974 book by author Micheal Shaara titled “The Killer Angels”. That title becoming a metaphor for the goodness and the wickedness of human beings — their capacity to do something righteous, like standing up for the rights of slaves or defending a friend, as well as their capacity to cause enormous suffering and destruction. An paradox of warfare… killing humans to save humans.
“The Killing Fields” is a 1984 British biographical drama film about the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, which is based on the experiences of two journalists: Cambodian Dith Pran and American Sydney Schanberg. The film is about a number of sites in Cambodia where collectively more than a million people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge regime (the Communist Party of Kampuchea) during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979, immediately after the end of the Cambodian Civil War (1970–1975). The mass killings are widely regarded as part of a broad state-sponsored genocide (the Cambodian genocide). The killing of other humans based on some political or racial reasons with the intent of simply killing them all. Human history is full of genocide examples. Humanity has made the killing of each other a science. Making the killing a genocide turns it into a production model of effeciency killing. Our history even makes note of those events.
Why “In God’s Name” Do We Do This?
To some the answer is in that title… we are part of God’s Plan, and to those who Believe, His plan includes conforming to the Bible in an attempt to moderate our impulses with spiritual meaning in applying what amounts to the Golden Rule in our daily lives. We embrace our humanity by embracing a guilt for being ourselves, in order to embrace the challenge for bettering ourselves. Although throughout history religion itself has been a justification alone for man killing his fellow man.. from the Crusades to modern Jihads. But the debate should not be with religion. On the whole that provides a measure of behavioral modification using faith in the “better” that we can be to ourselves.
While that’s all nice, we still have to ask why we humans do this to ourselves. Well, we have to invoke Darwin now… it’s evolutionary in our species. There are other species in the animal kingdom that do also kill each other, some according to certain survival rituals like mating or establishing a pack dominance or protecting turf and/or family units. So killing within a species is not unusual in nature. But we tend to question ourselves because we’ve “allegedly” achieved this higher form of being able to reason and question the world we live in to improve our odds for survival by being able to adapt through intellect. We know why we kill each other… but containing that impulse given our natural propensity for infinite variety has been nearly impossible. Very simply put, mankind covets what he does not have, be it the Biblical “other man’s wife”, or power over others, property, money, fame, knowledge, the list is endless but the list drives mankind. Genocide itself is a killing of a complete group of people in order to “cleanse” or annihilate a completely offensive piece of humanity. Mankind also kills for the enjoyment… which in itself does make us a pretty unique species in the animal kingdom. Killing is us, but as stated earlier from the movie quote, we are capable of such beautiful dreams. But as killing is A dominant trait for humans it is not THE dominant trait.
Because we kill each other in wars we do relish the peace and are always struggling to achieve it… then trying to maintain it. Sometimes trying to maintain the peace means going to war. Figure that one out. The inherent hypocrisy that is man. It’s obvious my post here is leading to the latest conflict in Europe representing the greatest loss of life and national destruction since World War II… that second world war we wanted to not repeat like the previous one. Just 6-7 weeks ago Ukraine was a promising, functioning democracy, defining its own role in the world and relishing their own independence and free market economy. A country with it’s own natural beauty, urban and natural. Parks, schools, hospitals with the latest treatments, cultural centers, music halls… and a democratic government. We watched it all nearly vanish, on our TV screens and media devices as it happened.. dead bodies in the streets, burning bodies inside tank wreckage we could only imagine… fleeing mothers with their children… the elderly fleeing from their second war in their lifetimes… all that destruction and death inside of a month. It’s oddly almost inhuman if your response to seeing what Ukraine has gone through at the hands of the Russians under Putin, is complacent, rather than at least dreaming equal harm will be delivered back to the Russians for their crimes on the innocent. Death for those who deliver death. It’s difficult to imagine the beautiful things humans are capable of doing.. yet in war those things DO happen. The displaced refugees being tended to and welcomed by other countries.. embraced in fact. The amazing paradox of being in the midst of humans killing humans… and other humans helping those humans in need. How complex we are as a species.
But It’s Not Always Just In War
Twenty elementary school children are killed by someone using a gun… literally a tool of death (which is also the intent of having the tool for self-defense), yet after the event we all go back to our normal lives without even a flinch in trying to understand the “why” it happened so we might try to avoid it happening again. We are so used to killing each other for any damn reason as being part of who we are. So here we are, witnesses to the latest idiotic display of killing because another country covets what a lesser country has.. and at the same time witnessing the compassion humans can display to the point where a certain hope for a future of peace enters our minds.. appropriately masking our utter frustration, contempt, and instinct to defend the innocent. What ex-G.I. in America doesn’t wish he could travel to Ukraine and help them kill their human invaders? After all, those Russian “humans” have been begging, and deserving, in getting their asses kicked by American soldiers since the end of WW2… and there it is… humans killing humans because it’s instinctual… and our ability to reason, which sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, has reasoned that we need to kill each other… for whatever reason. “La vengeance est un met que l’on doit manger froid” (“Revenge is meal best eaten cold.”). Or consider the proverb… “If you want revenge then dig two graves.”