space robot*We’ve just about lost our damn minds.  All of  us.  Everywhere.

In every city of every country in the world, people are at odds–with their neighbors, with their governments.  With their own psyches.

Everywhere you look, there is sexism, racism, classism.  Insecurity and utter ignorance.  Not to mention some of the worst pop music in the history of the genre. Humanity is a mess.

And just when it seems things aren’t so bad—just after you read or hear of  one  gratifying  action done out of common dignity and compassion–up  come three more  acts of selfishness, hate and vast human dysfunction. Something’s gotta  give.

Call me mawkish,  but  I believe whole heartedly in those tender words the  prolific lyricist Hal David  put  to  Burt Bacharach’s elegant melody: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.“  It’s true.

But before that, in the name of love, what the world needs now  is an  invasion from outer space.

Seriously.  We need an earth-shaking  event   around which to rally–not as a country or  as any one culture or group of people,  but as a planet.  We need a startling, tense and action-packed reminder that we are but flesh; that we all bleed,  that despite being as unique and dissimilar as gorgeous flowers in a well-tended garden,  we are one.

Many have forgotten this.  Remarkably, others  never knew or believed it.  It’s time we all learn and remember.   I think an invasion from outer space would do the trick.

Sounds extreme, I know, but nothing else seems  to make us respect our magnificent circumstance for any length of time. Earthly happenings such as massive earthquakes, deadly hurricanes, name-taking tornadoes and unspeakable crimes do bring people together.  However,  in the end, those things do little more than conjure “regional empathy.” Depending on where you live, that tsunami simply made for dramatic television footage of a terrible crisis HAPPENING TO SOMEONE ELSE.

People like to say that, at least in America, on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, we came together as a nation, but that’s not  true.  What happened was on 9/11   America’s usual whipping boy–minorities, the poor, women–got a  temporary reprieve, as all of us, the systematically disparaged included,  focused our suspicions, ignorance, fears and hate upon Muslims.  Didn’t matter whether  they were law-abiding citizens who were just as shocked, saddened and angry about the attacks as anyone else.   Indeed, in recent years, the closest the world has come to unification is its collective preoccupation with Islam and its stupefying inability to separate the religion from horrific, senseless terrorism.

flying saucers (over bulding)An invasion from outer space would change all that.  Nothing encourages instant, sincere brotherhood among angry and forever bickering humans like the surreal vision of space ships landing in every capital of every country on earth, carrying  advanced beings from a distant galaxy who simultaneously render useless all our weapons, interrupt our cable TV and Internet and take away our inherent craving for Pepsi and bacon.

Suddenly, it wouldn’t matter who controlled the Gaza Strip.  It wouldn’t matter your religion   or whether you were rich or poor, white, black, brown, red, yellow or a combination.  The only hue  we’d all concern ourselves with would be the alternately hideous and fashionably  green of our visitors.

Almost immediately, the crisis would neutralize the earthly phenomenon called  celebrity.  In the event of a space invasion, there is no VIP section.  To  beings  from another planet,  we’re all bad actors.

Unintentionally, the aliens would scare the shit out of us, like 9/11 scared the shit out of us and just as natural disasters humble us.  But for once in the history of the world, human beings  would find camaraderie in  being collectively scared shitless of something besides one another.

When the chief alien spoke, its sound system  would allow it to communicate with the whole world at once.   What it would tell us is what they’d observed of us for decades—that we were  narcissistic, mean, evil and nasty.  And that’s just how we treated ourselves.

The alien would  declare our  treatment  of  our fellow man, animals and the planet  no less than unconscionable.  Somehow, this alien’s singular speech would have the uncanny power to address every person on earth in  the specific way in which each living  individual needed to hear it.  While we wouldn’t want to listen—-it would be shameful to hear-—without cable or Internet,  we’d have no choice.

They would  come in peace, the aliens, and stay for six days–during which time they’d see to it that all our basic needs were met.  That way, they said, we wouldn’t have to do anything but meditate on all the ways we’d squandered our  precious existence.  The space beings would make us  see the joy and value in loving one another at all costs.

On the morning of the seventh day, all over the world the space ships would be seen making their ascent.  Undoubtedly, some of us wouldn’t want them to go.  As they departed,  the cable and the net would come back on (the pigs, on the other hand, secretly met with the aliens and cut a side deal so the space creatures wouldn’t restore man’s zeal for bacon).

I know. It’s a ridiculous story. However, its  absurdity makes man’s  reality—our fussing and fighting, our hate and bigotry and killing one another–all the more insidious.   Sadly,  THAT stuff, you can’t make up.

  Steven Ivory, journalist and author of the essay collection Fool In Love  (Simon & Schuster),  has covered popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio and TV for more than 30 years. Respond to him [email protected]

steven ivory

Steven Ivory