In Search of Intelligent Life

Nasa’s Kepler spacecraft–as reported recently “in a grand finale of planet spotting prowess” tracked down 219 new planets outside our solar system. Included amongst these distant neighbors in deep space are 10 such new planets that “could have the right qualifications for hosting life”.

How exciting! Other planets, orbiting a star other than own precious sun that might host life. Possibly life forms that–dare I dream?–might even exceed a level of intelligence than demonstrated by the Homo sapiens now numbering over 7 billion on planet Earth.

Now, I  know humankind has made great advances in science and technology, cured once pernicious and widespread diseases, sent other humans to our moon and back, and is now working on driverless cars and digital devices in which one may bark out a command for information and said digital assistant spits out the needed response to the lazy-ass delight of its owner, who can’t even now bother to do a quick internet search of his or her own. Of course they can’t; he or she is too busy, with–hmmm, what? Uh, waiting for the latest social media postings from their 3,794 “friends” or the latest tweets from cyberspace debating on sports issues or what a particular pop diva is up to, or what the fuck Dennis Rodman is doing in North Korea again. Basketball diplomacy anyone?

If there is any life of any form on any other planet, no matter how far away it may be, I’m wanting to believe at least ONE of them has its shit wired much better than what passes for intelligence on Mother Earth, here in the crazed and vicious 21st Century, with its fictional or factual historical points on a planet asserted by rigorous Earth science to be about 5 billion years old.  However other “experts” assert the 3rd rock from the sun is no more than 6,000 years old. And these true believers are willing kill and have done so, to defend their non-scientific  assertion.

Did someone use the word kill? Oh, right, that was me. In my humble opinion the history of humankind (kind!) is a history of virtual non-stop violence, possibly since the first incarnation of a bipedal known as Sahelanthropus or if not that Miocene dude, then likely the earliest stone tool-making version of we the people, Australopithecus dude (and dude-ettes). If not some bashing and bruising waaay back then, well, certainly our penchant for aggressive, deadly behavior was inherent and hot-wired into humans by the time fire was discovered by homo erectus. Bash-in a skull or two of some rival erectus thug trying to muscle in on that that early version of a cook out and “erect” becomes  not so erectus.

Fast forward to, say today, and what is happening in our world crowded with modern human existence? Let’s see. Endless wars, border conflicts, religious conflicts, (hey, my imaginary guy in the sky is the one true imaginary guy in the sky!) ethnic conflicts, racial bloodletting, especially in the U.S. where a possible summary death sentence is carried out on a motorist of a certain color daring to drive around with a broken tail light. Or the disgruntled spouse who dispatches a former “loved” one and perhaps decides to whack their three young kids as well, then set the house on fire,  and maybe figure, after some demented self-reflection that, what the hell, time to blow my own brains out.

Currently, the most egregious evidence that planet Earth is infested with dispassionate, socio-pathic, power-hungry humanoids, is the civil war in Syria, where the non-combatant inhabitants of the city Aleppo have been getting bombed by their country’s military, many left dead instantly while many are doomed to slowly succumb under the ruble of what once was their home. As if that isn’t despicable enough, then the same military of those non-combatant citizens, will get a”double tap”; the same bombed buildings are bombed again at  the very moment the so-called “White Hat Brigade” digs furiously among the rubble and ruins for a any sigh of life that they may rescue.

As sickening as that scenario (documented) is, it is sadly but simply an extension of the aforementioned centuries of carnage and, much of the time, arbitrary murders of people who are unfortunately of the wrong race, the wrong ethnicity, the wrong religious belief, the wrong gender, the wrongly sexually oriented or wrong opponent of a very, very wrong lunatic at the most WRONG time and place. Genocides have been conducted since who knows-when?, most notoriously on about 6 million Jews by the Hitler regime, and long before that, on the native American Indians, the indigenous inhabits of virtually every state in our U.S. of A. Our elementary school history books essentially call that bit of business an unavoidable necessity.

In more subtle ways, pernicious death-dealing is a product of legislative process, where historical, political, financial, cycles have seen the “robber barons” exploiting the working class, to the Great Depression, a result of deregulation of financial markets that had the Roaring Twenties become the Abysmal Thirties for vast numbers of the U.S. population, to the more recent 2008 meltdown that caused havoc and ruin for many more middle-Americans by greedy, heartless banksters.

At this very moment, the U.S. Senate is attempting to pass legislation  that, if successful, will doubtlessly lead to millions of Americans facing early deaths or long lingering downward spirals by gutting Medicaid, Planned Parenthood and more, in a blatant, shameless, reckless, desire to transfer even more of our country’s vast wealth to the already richest of the rich (and the wealthy have already done just fine already over the past 35 or so years).  This type of behavior is, unlike a bomb dropped on a neighborhood in Aleppo, or carnage of the Crusades, or the Killing Fields of Cambodia, or the systemmatic gassing of Jews during WWII, or even the bullet in the head of that motorist of a certain color with the broken tail light, just as viscous and heartless in its end-game.

So, a visitor from another planet, and maybe someday such a visitor may come; but as in the great 1950’s sci-fi cautionary tale about how seemingly reckless and thoughtlessly dangerous a species Homo sapiens have become, that being The Day the Earth Stood Still, such a “far out” visitor would likely be met with fear, mistrust, and aggression. Hopefully, as in that movie, the hypothetical visitor will survive and, like the one in The Day the Earth… pronounce an ultimatum to the leaders of our world, that if we cannot stop our murderous, aggressive ways, and with nuclear weaponry that could threaten other life forms in our galaxy, that the powers beholden by that visitor’s planet, and its allies, would have no choice but to reduce the earth to a smoldering, burnt out cinder.

Okay, that’s not likely to happen, but this planet’s “leaders” and far too many of its various citizen-voters are becoming too dumbed-down or gullible to know what is really good and what is not good at all. The here and now reality is a disturbing, dangerous and rather depressing matter. We have all the carnage, the hate, simple-mindedness and divisiveness, be it owing to the color of one’s skin, or one’s lifestyle, one’s ethnicity or simply one’s beliefs, in spite that we all belong to the same species. In the immortal words of Rodney King, can’t we all just get along?

Most alarming is the fact that now we have tens of thousands of nuclear weapons scattered here and there by various countries, and like a global turf war in waiting, there are missiles pointed at various perceived enemies. Fear and loathing via the Ultimate Weapon. Much saber-rattling is going on now to add to the anxiety of basic everyday life. If the best we can do to try a bit of warm-fuzzy rather than cold and callous, is have Dennis Rodman bring a goofy smile to the cut-throat North Korean dictator’s face, we’re in real deep trouble. There’s technically “intelligent” life on planet Earth, but that intelligence seems to be used far too nefariously and carelessly. So, we don’t need any alien visitor, say Mork from Ork, to tell us to knock it off or he’ll knock us out for good. More and more, I’d say we’re on our way to doing that to ourselves, one way or another. In the meantime, thank Bog for The Onion and Mad Magazine. There’s never enough snarky humor to get us through this sick and twisted place we Earthlings call home.

Wait, aren’t there plans to get some Earthlings on Mars? I can suggest a number of heartless, greedy, control-freak honchos I’d love to see sent packing, one-way to the Red Planet.

That excludes Matt Damon, of course.

 

About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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