The Common Good
August 2010

Who You Calling 'Alien'?!

by Ed Spivey Jr. | August 2010

Humans are like ants, only less productive.

As the 2010 mid-term election nears, Americans are preparing to choose the leaders who will take us into the future, or, in the case of “Ayn” Rand Paul, into the past. Paul is the candidate who doubts the severity of the massive Gulf oil spill because it hasn’t yet reached the shores of Kentucky. Paul also believes federal inspectors should spend less time on oil rigs and more time monitoring Walgreens, a private company that apparently is allowing people of color to sit at its lunch counters.

And speaking of aliens.
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking says that candidates from Planet Tea Party aren’t the only things we should fear. In a recent interview he revealed two things: that he believes there is life in other galaxies, and that one day they will visit our planet. And when they arrive, he added, we should definitely be afraid.
This surprised me, as I casually looked up from the newspaper and into my back yard for the best place to dig a large hole to hide in. For years I had no fear of alien beings because of what I heard another scientist once say about insects. Humans are a superior alien race to ants, he noted, and yet we don’t reach down and offer to cure their diseases, or show them how to transition from a dictatorial monarchy to a worker-led democracy. No. We just ignore them, or smush their hills with our foot, although from experience I can say you shouldn’t do this wearing flip flops. After toiling for days piling little dirt balls into mounds, ants take offense at having to work through the weekend to rebuild. So they bite you, a defense we should keep in mind when alien life forms discover us in the holes in our back yards.
Now Stephen Hawking says that WE’RE the ants. And it doesn’t help that for years NASA has been launching deep space probes that contain numerous cultural artifacts from our own civilization. One of the items is a recording of Buddy Holly’s classic “Peggy Sue,” a questionable choice, at best, since it contains the following:
Peggy Sue, Peggy Sue,
pretty pretty pretty pretty Peggy Sue.
Oh Peggy, my Peggy Sue-ue-ue.
Oh well I love you gal,
and I need you Peggy Sue.
With alien ships probably just now entering our atmosphere, there is not time for me to explain the monstrous folly of transmitting this to a superior race. What is NASA trying to convey—that humans have the intellect and vocabulary of juvenile cockatiels, but without the lovely singing voice? Hearing that song, aliens would immediately cancel their meetings on how best to make contact and simply view us as a protein source, or maybe a low grade of paving material for use in their landing pads.
If it’s not too late, we should immediately start transmitting scary songs from Black Sabbath or Rob Zombie, or maybe pictures of Marilyn Manson. Not only is his music frightening, he also looks particularly inedible, and that might hold them off for a while.
I assume that alien life forms are superior to us because humans are a relatively young and immature species. Other life forms probably stopped using Facebook years ago, and they probably bypassed Twitter altogether. Actually, “twitter” is the term superior beings apply to the movements humans make with our legs when we run and jump into our holes. This makes them laugh, shortly before they step on us. But not with flip flops. They’re too smart for that.
Ed Spivey Jr. is art director of Sojourners. His book, A Hamster is Missing in Washington, D.C., earned the top prize in humor at the 2010 Independent Publishers Book Awards.
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