What’s Fabulous About the Human Race

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“That’s intense. Did they look like us?”

“I couldn’t see them,” Alan replied, “but I don’t think so. They communicated in whistles, beeps, growls, and buzzes, but somehow I could understand their sounds as words.”

“We called you here,” they told me, “because we read your writing. You’re always going on about how amazing things are, so we thought you would be a good person to speak for your human race.

You have a wonderful planet here. And you’ve pretty much screwed it up, haven’t you? What we want to know is, what have you got to show for it?  What have you done with your beautiful world that we should respect you for? If you are worthy, we may help you out of the hole you have dug for yourselves.”

“I felt a lot of pressure. It was worse than giving a sermon to a church full of people who would rather be watching football. My hands were shaking, but I also knew I had some good answers.  I could report at least six fabulous human accomplishments that no other species on Earth has touched, things which any sentient being in the universe could appreciate. I took a deep breath and started in.”

“Have you heard this?” I asked. I played them some music, Pharaoh Sanders I think. “We have this tremendous variety of rhythms, sounds, harmonies. I know we didn’t create music. Music is vibrations, and everyone is  vibrating all the time. But we’ve got orchestras and choruses, combos and soloists, jazz and folk and hip hop. We have different rhythms, different instruments, and harmonies. We sing in church to be uplifted; we sing the blues when we’re down. Our music can make you feel however you want to feel. Animals here can’t make music, but they love to listen to ours. Maybe you could sign up for pandora.com and find out more.”

There was a minute of silence. Maybe they were taking notes. Then I heard some screeches that I interpreted, “What else have you got?”

Storytelling, I said. Humans tell great stories. We tell them to make sense of what happens; and when we have no idea what’s happening, we just make them up. We’ve got dramas and comedies and romances and tragedies, and we can make whatever happens into a story.

I felt some critical energy from the listeners. OK, so it’s not always a good thing, I admitted. The storymaking can interfere with direct experience, sure, but it creates so much feeling. It conveys powerful truths that couldn’t be expressed nearly as well any other way. Our great spiritual teachers used them all the time. Our writers and filmmakers still do. I recommended The Wizard of Oz as an example.

“What else?”

In the dream, I was getting weary, but I went on as brightly as I could. There’s cooking! We have created the most delightful tastes and combinations of plants and animals, spices and herbs to eat.  According to author Michael Pollan, cooking developed for survival. We could eat lots more things cooked, and digest them more easily than eating raw food, but we really took it far beyond survival. Animals love our cooked food. You might, too. The symphony of colors and textures that is Chinese food, the subtle sweetness of Italian desserts, the ability to turn even bugs and mushrooms into something delicious. French! Brazilian! Really, human cooking has gone to incredible levels of variety, intensity, and artistry. Would you want that to disappear from the universe?

Then I woke up.  My wife was shoving me in the bed. She said I had been talking in my sleep and brought me some tea. She told me to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t.  It was only a dream, but it shook me up. I prayed for an hour and hoped the experience was over.

The next night the same dream happened again. The invisible voices welcomed me back. They had liked what they heard, but it wasn’t enough. Apparently, saving us will be a big project and they needed to be sure we were worth it. “Don’t tell us about your wonderful acts of love and kindness and self-sacrifice,” they told me. “We know you do those, but so does everyone else. You’re nothing special in the love department compared to dogs.”

I had been thinking about justifying humanity all day, and I was able to remember some of it. I talked about visual art, from representational to movies, abstracts, images of all kinds. We can make anything we do into art: our houses, our clothes, our skin, flowers, trees, rocks. With computers we create whole new genres of art never seen before, on Earth at least.

I switched directions. Humans have an amazing ability to collaborate, I told them. We have teams, organizations, businesses. We have crowdfunding and crowd researching. We collaborate without trying to. In the blog world, people help each other with their writing. They publicize and distribute each other, so writing gets better and better. There’s no telling what we can do if we survive.

I talked about physical culture – sports, dance, gymnastics.  People do things with their bodies just to create beauty, I told them. Had they seen basketball? Ballet? Afro-Cuban dance? I wasn’t sure I was getting through to them.  I woke up sweating.

Alan was sweating now just telling me the story. “Wow,” I said, squeezing his hand. “Do you think you will have this dream again?”  “I hope not,” he said. “But what if they come back? What else can I tell them?”

We decided to meditate on it, since that’s what we were there for. Afterward, Alan looked calmer. He had decided he could tell them about the Internet and the fabulous things that was bringing into the universe. He would invite them to log on to this fantastic metaworld humans have created.

“Here’s an idea,” I suggested. “Invite them to San Francisco. All those wonders – the dance, the art, the food, the storytelling, the music all come together downtown here, supported by a ton of money. If they spent a few days here, maybe they’d decide to fix the place up. Of course, remind them to avoid the police.”

“Well, if they call me again, maybe I’ll do that.”

“Please let me know what happens,” I said as I wheeled away.

The next day Alan e-mailed. The dream had returned. He had done the best he could, he said, but he wasn’t sure. “What did they say?” I asked. “They thanked me for my time, and they were going to think about it.”

That was nine months ago. Alan hasn’t heard back from the space people, and I don’t see much evidence anyone is coming to save us. It’s looking like we’ll have to save ourselves. He wonders if he did as well as he could have.

What would you have said? What things about humanity strike you as wonderful and worth saving? Let us know. Maybe Alan will have a chance to pass them on.

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3 Responses to What’s Fabulous About the Human Race

  1. Great post, David!

    Here’s the response that comes to my mind: I think we will need to save ourselves, and I know that we have what it will take to do that. I’m guardedly optimistic that we will do it.

    But there is no need for us to prove anyone that we are worth helping. Imagine three different groups of people in three different locations around the world, and imagine that they were struggling to survive. In my mind, there is no test they would need to pass to be worth helping. All humans are intrinsically worth saving; that comes to us from our Creator.

    We might not be able to help all three groups at the same time, but using supposed “worthiness” would not be a valid criterion to use to decide which group to help first.

  2. Pat Gray says:

    I hope the space people don’t come back for a while. As things are now, it would be hard to convince them to help us. We have been behaving pretty badly. Our current ‘civilization’ is not very civil. Many people on earth are very selfish and unwilling to share with others or to care for others.

    Our world could be a wonderful place and not need the help of the space people if we could learn to love one another. There is plenty for all of the people if people would share. The world is so beautiful but in our greed we are destroying and polluting the land, air and sea. We have to change our society and honor the good kind people and shame the greedy parasites. The bounty of the earth must be shared with all the people. All the people must protect the earth. Making lots of money is not the purpose of life. Our goals must change as we work to be good, kind and generous people.

  3. Nurse Tim of The Yukon says:

    I think what’s amazing about the human race is its ability to contain and manifest its Creator- that is truly supernatural. A realized purpose fulfilled- a noble purpose that we were created for. How do we realize this? We let go of our self-centeredness and our insecurities and seek to nurture our relationship with our Creator, and say, I’m OK, I’m safe, my Creator loves me and will meet my needs, and now I am free to love others and be a blessing to others as I was created to be. That’s what’s fabulous about the human race!

    But notice I don’t focus on the shortcomings of the human race, for that’s not what’s in my control; what IS in my control is my ability to respond to my circumstances around me- I can choose to be a blessing and not a curse. And, you’ve probably noticed by now, it’s contagious!

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