Tag Archives: will smith

Aliens for World Peace

I feel sorry for humanity sometimes.

tricycleI feel sorry when I hear that a Hispanic woman’s voice should only be used to enforce the “immutable” laws written by 300-year old white men. I feel sorry when I hear the term “world peace,” which now serves solely as a popular chant for beauty queens, and a punchline for stand-up comedians. I feel sorry when a tricycle needs to be locked up on the streets of New York City, because someone is afraid that it will get stolen.

I am sorry for all of these threats to humanity: for our divisive politics, for the wanton hate in the world, and for a tumbling economy that would drive thieves after three-wheelers.

But, I have a solution.  A solution that will boost our economy, bring people together, and elevate our relations with countries around the world:

Bring on the aliens.

Yes, aliens. Imagine flying saucers, little green men, and Joan Rivers’ face.

An alien attack on the White House brought people together in the movie Independence Day

I’m serious here.  It seems that most of the world’s troubles derive from our human nature to seek a common enemy.  So, think about it: The guys running Area 51 call up their alien pals and say, “Come on in!”  Thousands of alien spaceships fly through the hole in the ozone layer created by global warming. These aliens are smart (since they have spaceships) and angry (since they’ve been on a very, very long road trip with no rest stops).

Americans are soon alerted about the alien invasion, and boy, we are afraid. Afraid, and mad, because these damn spaceships are blocking satellite reception for DirecTV.  Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell immediately deliver a joint speech about togetherness in the face of adversity. Sarah Palin enchants us all with a story about how she can see outer space from Alaska. At the same time, a modern-day New Deal is put into place, creating thousands of jobs for ordinary Americans to build alien entrapment plants and spaceship bombers.

A U.N. coalition is quickly formed to fight the aliens, whose spaceships are now flying all over the globe.  Kim Jong Il offers up his arsenal of nukes.  Ahmadinejad  starts pumping oil to support a new military.  And given that America is still the global leader in science, technology, and alien objects (this is where Joan comes in), we are tasked with spearheading the charge.  After a rousing speech by Bill Pullman, Will Smith leads the first group of alien freedom fighters out in space.

Bound together by fear, and a renewed belief in our collective humanity, we shed our ideological differences and stand hand-in-hand with our human neighbors as we watch the fireworks above.

Of course, this is assuming that the aliens actually want to attack us.  Instead, if they are coming in peace, then it would seem rather inhumane to mercilessly eliminate them…  But if aliens can bring us (human) world peace, then I say, bring us the aliens.

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Always Doing What is “Practical” = Boring

Many people like to give job advice along the lines of being “practical.” Choose a major in college that is “practical”. Do internships and pursue work in industries that are “practical.” Being practical often refers to majoring in a field that will get you a job. It’s taking a job that will pay you well and get you further along some sort of practical career path to success. It’s the road most traveled.

The benchmark of practicality is often related to salary, job security, and chance for some kind of success. Acting and writing is not practical. Banking and marketing is. Unpaid work is not practical unless you’re trying to better position yourself for business school, law school, or med school. Practical jobs are steady, pay well, and will lead to other well-paying, steady jobs. The impractical jobs are risky.

Of course, it’s not a bad thing to be practical. But when is being “practical” just another synonym for being “safe”? After all, success does not always come from practicality. Dropping out of Harvard was probably not a safe move, but it worked out well for Bill Gates, Matt Damon, and Mark Zuckerberg. Quitting a stable job to write a novel worked out for JK Rowling. Will Smith turned down MIT to launch his singing and acting career.

Then again, our practical side reminds us that there are just as many (if not more) failed writers, singers, and Harvard dropouts who faded into oblivion by forsaking a more judicious, traditional path. A few years ago, I was at the UPS store in Cambridge when the guy packing my boxes mentioned he had gone to Harvard. He had been a chess champion, dropped out to pursue a career in chess, but failed to make it on the international circuit. Now he was working at UPS to support himself, while writing a book on chess and his travels.

There was a part of me that thought, “Wow, this guy went to Harvard and is now working at UPS and packing my boxes… what a failure.” But as he cheerily stuffed bubble wrap inside my boxes, the UPS guy told me about his travels around Europe, a chess match he had in the Soviet Union, and his hope that his writing would eventually land him a book deal. His life experience sounded far more interesting than anyone I know who had taken the boring old, “safe” route.

I’m not sure I could do what the UPS guy did and shove aside all thoughts of practicality: I think that our perception of success is still too easily determined by job titles and salaries and risk aversion. But there is financial success and professional/personal success, and perhaps we too often focus on the former. So, if we can get around the inclination to link what is practical to some narrow definition of success, then maybe taking the road less traveled won’t seem so risky after all.

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