I was recently reading a sci-fi story about the U.S.’s first adventure to an extraterrestrial planet. The expedition took a group of Americans to a nearby star, where they interacted with the native population in an effort to learn about them. The natives to the planet had an average estimated IQ of around 165. Life was much different than anything here on Earth. There was a uniformity amongst the population. Daily life was highly organized for everyone. All homes had the same design and floor plan. The civilization was successful because of the people’s dedication to productivity; everyone contributed to the well being of everyone else.
At the end of the story the Americans were shocked at what they perceived as a “lack of liberty” and were subsequently determined to teach this civilization how much better things are for Americans on Earth.
I couldn’t help but think of the Americans’ shortsightedness.
There’s a belief among many that the American way is the right way and any other way, regardless of how successful it is, is the wrong way. Happiness is measured in American societal ideals. We have other cultures right here on this planet that seem so very foreign, yet you can’t help but see happiness and fulfillment in their National Geographic captured images.
I’m reminded of an article I read years ago in a local paper of how a group of well intended folks wanted to liberate children from their Amish schools because they couldn’t possibly be happy without football and band practice and the PTA sanctioned practice of going door to door selling candy bars to pay for all this frivolity. Their happiness and contentment didn’t meet the measure of our standards of happiness and contentment, and therefore it must bad and/or wrong. It must be abuse.
But it’s not. It’s just a different way of doing things.
There is no doubt that our neighbors find happiness in ways that are unfamiliar to us. I have no right to tell them that whatever they’re happily doing in their home is wrong because I would find the same activity agonizingly tedious. So if we take that to the next step, why would I travel to another country or planet and judge the natives on their attainment of happiness?
I don’t know where I’m going with this rambling. Respect one another? Of course. Live and let live? Of course. Someday we’re going to be in the position of meeting beings from another world. It will be a glorious moment for mankind.
Let’s hope no one tries to tell them they need to soup up their spaceships with political stickers or something.