• Daniel Kephart

Don't Mess with Earth - Endgame, Aliens, and Life

(Today's article was written by guest contributor Anthony Corkos, a graduate student in Psychology at Waynesburg University.)

Until further notice, we are alone in the universe.

All known human life began on Earth, it seems. In fact, no intelligent life has ever been discovered beyond the atmosphere of our little green ball. Which begs the question, what would happen if extraterrestrial life suddenly was discovered? Perhaps more importantly, what would happen if it landed here...on Earth.

*Cue ominious sci-fi music*

Would it be like H.G. Wells' novel, The War of the Worlds, in which humanity is brought to its knees almost instantly? Maybe so.

Or perhaps the result would be something more like Marvel's Infinity War, involving a huge last stand that almost succeeds. If so, that'd be pretty cool--minus the whole half-the-population-turning-to-ash thing.

One thing is for certain, though, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's story is a lot more compelling than The War of the Worlds--just look at the box office revenues. Maybe that's because it jives more with how humans have behaved when faced with difficult circumstances across time.

In the history of warfare, we've stopped at nothing to achieve victory. We have used scorched earth tactics, suicide bombing, chemical warfare, and nuclear weapons in order to win.

In the game of survival, as far as humanity is concerned, there are no holds barred. And if we'll fight like this against our own species, imagine what we'd do to an off-earth invader.

The fascinating thing is, though, that we don't really mind losing in these stories. Infinity War is a great example of how we'll pay big bucks to watch the good guys lose; and still leave the theater feeling satisfied. And this isn't limited to just a couple films--Rocky, The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight, and many, many more Hollywood blockbusters all contain the same message at their core: Resillence and strength in the face of defeat are more important than even victory.

In life, the fight matters more than the potential triumph.

Even kids on the playground understand this. When a kid stands up to a bigger, more physically intimidating bully, he usually loses. Yet he gains the respect of his community and, often, even the bully. Kids understand that it takes an incredible degree of psychological fortitude to face certain defeat.

Humanity values this trait, and for good reason. Much of life, after all, is a series of inevitable defeats. We will all lose someone we care about at some point, so we grow to respect those who suffer immense personal losses and keep moving forward. We all are familiar with illness, so we revere those who face down cancer without dread. Most of all, we all know that our lives will eventually end--so we hold in immense esteem those who live their lives at peace with this.

On the other hand, we grow to resent those who complain at the smallest of irritations. When someone is continually watching the clock, we don't want to work with them. Likewise, when someone is disrespectful to the hardships endured by someone suffering, we distance ourselves from that person. We don't appreciate it when people speak ill of the dead.

Which begs the question, how do you and I respond when faced with these batttles? Do we really put up our best fight, like Rocky or the Avengers? And, if not, then perhaps its time for a little soul-searching. Because that's one element of making life, and tragedy, meaningful.

And we all want a meaningful life...whatever it takes...

*Cue Avenger's theme music*

Because a hero can be anyone who faces incredible odds!

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