“You Don’t Like People Very Much, Do you?”
…The casual acquaintance asked me years ago. I can’t even recall the circumstances or the topic of conversation, but a relative stranger made the comment that stuck with me and pricks at me to this day. Do I actually not like people? The question, more of an accusation, surprised me.
What would that acquaintance think if he saw me now? Parsecs from home, the only person aboard an automated rescue ship?
“We’re in stable orbit, Captain.”
“Very good, Charlie. Bonnie, do you see our people?”
“The vicinity is narrowed to within one acre.”
“Estimated between fifteen and thirty-five.”
“Any sign of the Hywon?”
“No trace of any other starcraft in this system, Captain. However there are traces of debris left over from Hywon occupation of this space.”
“So they’ve abandoned their victims.”
Maybe I don’t like people.
My computer crew never agitates me. It never enters my mind to have feelings toward them. They’re always pleasant, efficient, composed and available.
If I have two conscious choices about all of humanity, whether to “like” or “dislike” the mass of it, I waffle.
The person who outed my dislike might unhesitatingly say I disliked people, having observed something that made him state it. But when I ask myself the question, it’s only my cynical sub-self who wants to scream “Of course not! Have you met any people? What’s to like?”
“I wonder how they’re coping with life down there?”
“Indications are that the Hywon provided no guidance for this particular experiment.”
“Transplanted humans, abandoned as children to cope for themselves. What was it like for them here? What is it like now?”
“They live in a world of the unknown. They are surrounded by wildlife that has no name. The sounds from the distance fill their imagination with paranoia, while the vision of sunlight scattered on the horizon stops their breath with its beauty. They have no words for these things unless they create some. No name exists for the stars above. No word exists for water or life. And there are very few others like themselves to share these mysteries with.”
“Here’s hoping we can rescue them, in every way.”
‘Others like themselves.’ No matter where you are, doesn’t it always feel like there are very few others like yourself?
If I could meet and judge 100 random individuals for just one minute each, I’d bet the breakdown would be: 90 liked, 10 disliked. Of course that would be based on personalities presented by strangers with their best foot forward…
Allowed to spend an hour with each of the same 100, I’m guessing the breakdown would change. I’d discover certain things about some of them that would destroy my initial warm fuzzies. Then the score would be Liked: 75. Disliked: 25.
Forced to spend an entire 24 hours with each of the very same 100, things would shift radically. Because of my tendency to observe and analyze behavior, previously concealed or subconscious ticks would be exposed. In one or two cases I might move a previously disliked person into the liked category, but generally the increase in the disliked would jump to something like 45 out of 100.
I do extrapolate and I am highly instinctual, so maybe the person who called me on it could see that in the end I really do dislike almost half the population. But why? What are the real reasons for my contempt of so many?
My theory? Among the things I would discover as my day with those 100 individuals unfolded would be the well-concealed pleasure so many of them derive from the pain of others.
There are, by this frightening estimate, some 3 billion people on Earth alone who will secretly smile when you lose your job, your marriage falls apart or your beloved pet dies. A good portion of those 3 billion will covertly promote your downfall, even if they don’t know you or even if you’re their son.
Why? Because it pleases them when others suffer, and many aren’t even aware enough to realize their malice or admit their satisfaction.
And sometimes it’s related to sexual stimulation. My pain is your aphrodisiac.
“Approaching the surface. Landing in 3…2…1…”
They weren’t intended for this world, but here they are, taken as seeds from their genetic nursery and transplanted to a planet that seems like an endless plain of ups and downs that goes on forever.
And though they don’t know it, they are being watched.
When it was discovered that human DNA had been used experimentally by aliens, some felt the necessity of tracing the whereabouts and recovering any possible victims Out There. It was a daunting prospect considering the scope of what had gone on.
Just the kind of getaway for a guy sick of being around people.
Some would lead us to believe that there are sadistic people and non-sadistic people, but experience tells me there’s a little sadist in everyone.
Do you cheer the deaths of bad guys?
While some of us feel a quiet satisfaction that some form of justice has been delivered and a certain sadness that things had to be conducted in such a gruesome and bloody way, others are celebrating in a fashion indistinguishable from Superbowl exuberance.
I wonder what the dead of the latest disastrous terror attack would feel if they saw people cheering about killing their killers?
From most accounts I’ve read about and heard of, near death experiences bring a sense of peace and an appreciation of love. Do the dead come away from that into an afterlife wanting blood vengeance?
I suspect all victims would be saddened by such undignified, self-diminishing displays; even those who died as assholes.
There are unwitting humans growing up and living on worlds scattered across the Milky Way, never suspecting that there is a whole planet called Earth teeming with their kind in the sky above.
They were planted out there to be observed and manipulated for scientific study. Some were quickly exterminated by local situations.
Some were left to gestate, and would be visited again centuries from now to see what became of them. Perhaps that is the intention for these people.
But some are simply forgotten in the vastness of the galaxy and the scheme.
Look to the lonely sky and wish your lost cousins well.
Hell, even I can manage that much.