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Opinion, Santa Monica, Steve Stajich, Bad Behavior

Could Earth Use A Time Out?

Steve Stajich, Columnist
Santa Monica Mirror Archives
Steve Stajich, Columnist

Posted Sep. 21, 2013, 9:08 am

Steve Stajich / Mirror Columnist

I’m not sure where the concept of a “time out” for children began, and I’m not bothering to research it because “time outs” have become something of a “Get Out of Parenting - Free” card with a recognized level of ineffectiveness.

There’s nothing ‘New Age’ about it: Parents have been sending their kids off to their rooms since kids were lucky enough to have rooms to go to.

And a “time out” is ordered when there’s been some presumably wrong or bad behavior. Only rather than interact about it, parents send the child away to dwell alone and suffer separation. Maybe that gives Dad or Mom some time on Facebook to vent about how challenging it is to be a parent these days.

Yet regardless of my concerns about the dubious efficacy of a parent-administered “time out,” it’s possible that our entire planet desperately needs one right now.

Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about it, what with the news conveying so much bad human behavior of late it makes you want to devolve into a dolphin and swim away from the human race altogether.

At another time when it felt like humankind was globally out of control, there landed in theaters a well-crafted science fiction film titled “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” I’m referring only to the original 1951 version directed by Robert Wise. Except for the deployment of Keanu Reeves as an emotion-free being from space – which is how most of us see him anyhow – the 2008 remake isn’t worth mentioning.

You can catch the terrific original “Day the Earth Stood Still,” directed by Robert Wise, when Santa Monica College’s Global Citizenship Council presents it next Friday, Sept. 27 as part of a film series with a focus on “Peace and Security: Managing Conflict and Violence in a Turbulent World.”

The screening – cohosted by SMC Political Science Professor Alan Buckley, SMC Film Studies Professor Josh Kanin, and SMC Earth Science Professor Pete Morris – will be followed by audience discussion (www.smc.edu).

If you’ve never seen the original “Day,” the key to the story is a montage sequence in which the aliens neutralize all sources of energy everywhere on our planet, except for situations that would compromise human safety, such as airliners in the sky or hospitals.

Having proven their omnipotence, the aliens later express their anxiety about earth people being so violent… and taking their first steps toward space travel.

‘Bring your crap into outer space and we’ll send our robots back to melt you,’ is essentially their indelicate warning to us in the closing moments of the movie.

Our atomic weapons and talk of orbiting satellites were clearly on the aliens’ radar, just as Syria’s deployment of biological weapons against its own people and a shooter’s deployment of a gun against innocents working in a Navy ship yard might be the concerns if the aliens were to land tomorrow and give Earth another global time-out and tongue-lashing to advise shaping up.

I happen to be a member of the generation where, for a sustained period roughly 30 to 40 years ago, the word “peace” was woven into conversation the same way “awesome” is today.

My generation may have never done any one truly awesome thing to bring about global peace, but back then we were tired of war in the same way Americans have recently expressed their exhaustion of war in reference to bombing Syria.

And tiredness is also a theme when it comes to mass shootings. Following the Washington Navy Yard killings, there were references to the fact that Congress and the Senate were located only a mile and a half from the shooting.

Yet the LA Times ran the headline “Navy Yard shooting near U.S. Capital Unlikely to Spur New Gun Laws.”

“It’s unconscionable that we sit by and do nothing in Washington as 6,000 people have died across the country since Newtown, 13 more yesterday,” said Sen. Christopher S. Murphy (D-Conn.) as one of a number of voices in Washington described by the LA Times as “exasperated.”

If we’re too worn-out to do these things on our own, then I guess we shouldn’t be surprised if the aliens do arrive and force an energy-choking ‘time out’ on us, followed by a threat to take over if we continue to fail to control ourselves.

Any messengers from space capable of maneuvering their flying saucers to earth and demonstrating talent with robot laser rays would likely find our insistence on destroying each other with crude chemical weapons and handguns something of an embarrassment to the concept of “intelligent life” in the universe.

And all that would come out before they learned about what we’ve been doing to our own breathing air and weather just so we can drive pick-up trucks to Albertsons.

Maybe they’d reconsider simply eradicating us if they had a look at all the sophisticated apps on our telephones.

That is, as long as nobody takes a shot at them while they’re checking out our toys.

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