Originally Published: October 7, 2003 6:10 p.m.
While I have spent most of my adult life studying, writing and talking about the fascinating, complex subject of inner space, I occasionally wonder and think about the mysteries of outer space.
I mean, we've walked on the moon and taken pictures of other planets, and though we've found no sign of human life, we still really don't know what or who's out there.
Of course, we have this conceit that we humans inhabiting planet Earth are, surely, the most advanced species that's ever existed, and even if there are other forms of life, they must be woefully inferior. This arrogance doesn't include the factor that our sphere is only perhaps 4 billion years old and some planets out there have been around for 70 or 80 billion years.
Sometimes when I read the headlines or listen to the nightly news, I become depressed about the advanced species theory. We do so many dumb things. I don't need to bore you with another list. Good heavens, you can just pick any day and develop your own catalog of stupidity.
But it's not only that we're so dim-witted in taking care of one another and this fragile bubble we live on, it's that we function consistently like fools. Oh, I know, you're thinking I'm referring to politicians and dictators and celebrities. Well, yeah, of course, but I'm really talking about you and me.
The point I'm getting to is that it's not much of a stretch to imagine that if there is human life out there in the universe, they are smart enough to stay the heck away from here. I mean, we have a little disagreement and we shoot one another. Big disagreements and we threaten to blow cities and countries to kingdom come. We go to war at the drop of an insult.
Now, if you were observing our behavior from some far-out place, wouldn't you be just a tad reluctant to schedule a visit? Especially if you didn't look or talk like us, or wore funny hats, or were people of color – purple, for instance – or arrived carrying banners that touted world peace?
Frankly, I think they would have reason to at least question the kind of reception they would receive. At the very least.
I guess there's another possible scenario to consider. Maybe they've been observing us for centuries, tooling around above us in their spinning tops, and they've concluded that planet Earth is useful to them as it is.
I think that was George Bernard Shaw's point when he said that perhaps all those aliens out there are using our little planet as some sort of interplanetary lunatic asylum.
It's worth thinking about. Yes?
(Ron Barnes is a longtime Prescott resident and a semi-retired educator and businessman.)