I enjoy this ad immensely for a number of reasons. It, and many similar pieces of media, have been analysed more fully than I have the time or intention to at The Secret Sun, by Christopher Knowles, which is, I think, where I first encountered it.
I like this ad so much that I began thinking about a science fiction TV series based on it. I started plotting it out in my mind. The premise is thus:
- Non-material beings come to Earth as aid workers.
- They have the ability to move instantaneously from place to place, or at any speed.
- They may be visible or invisible to us at will.
- They can communicate with us through sight, sound and our other senses, but are either incapable of or choose not to interact forcefully.
- We have no known technology that can interact with their state of existence.
It’s a deceptively simple premise, but I don’t think I’ve seen it before and in projecting forward from it some interesting thoughts came to me. Thoughts which are perhaps applicable beyond the realm of science fiction.
The first thing I considered was how the beings would approach Earth as a whole. Given their non-forceful nature, their role would be to influence the behavior of those physically present on Earth. To achieve this they might divide themselves into groups, each focusing on understanding and working with different cultures. Their effectiveness would be entirely dependent on their ability to interact with their chosen culture and the ones with which it interacts. As highly intelligent beings no-longer dependent on technology as we understand it, I doubt they would view humanity as the only sentient species, thus there would also be groups focusing on other primates, cetaceans and possibly many other species.
With their ability to remain undetected I suspect they would choose to observe each culture for long enough to gain some understanding of their thoughts, feelings and potential reactions. I emphasize this step, because hopefully as beings who had experienced many different cultures and states of being they would understand the existential threat that radically altering a society’s perception of realty can create. Focusing on modern industrial cultures, I think they would eventually chose to make first contact with open minded individuals on the fringes of society who would not be psychologically threatened by their existence and could answer specific questions for them.
The beings would realize that the military, industrial and political bodies of modern humanity would have a pathological reaction toward any group that cannot be killed, controlled, or prevented from observing or communicating with anyone or anything on Earth. I think the beings would fear for the rest of humanity.
Imagine beings zipping from one side of the planet to the other, tracing out the connections between societies and showing large numbers of people exactly what is happening. Closed door political meetings would be impossible. There would be no more sanitized war reports, or ignored and anonymous ecological disasters. The authority invested in power structures would begin to crumble, and who could the authorities inflict their means of control on? Not the beings. It would be us, because it would be us rising up against them.
I think the beings would realize the potential for violence if they revealed themselves immediately. I think they would slowly contact more open minded humans, ones who could begin to slowly culturally insinuate the presence of the beings without creating a violent reaction. Eventually, there would be a tipping point where some people know because they’ve had contact, but almost everyone knows without really knowing. The knowledge would be with them because they’ve seen it everywhere, but it hasn’t entered their conscious awareness yet. One explicit event and all that knowledge will crystallize. No one will be able to make them afraid or convince them to fight.
Ahhh, but unfortunately that wouldn’t make very good TV. The laws of drama demand that the beings are explicit and that humanity does rise up because of information that is revealed and that there is a terrible fight between the authorities and those who listen to the beings. Even so, I do think it could be a wonderfully educational little adventure. In season two we could even ask ourselves what might happen if their were such beings who didn’t have our best interests at heart.
As a final aside, it might be worth your time to consider the trailer for Steven Spielberg’s new series Falling Skies. Here is a question for you. When you think of a militarily advanced force dropping bombs on cities full of people and destroying their way of life, what does that remind you of in recent times? “History is full of inferior forces creating so much trouble that the invading army leaves.” Indeed. Jung posited that after WWII people were seeing round craft and mandalas in the skies because the collective unconscious of Europe was seeking wholeness. What does it say when we project our own aggressive behavior onto the sky and place ourselves in the role of victim?