A Martian's Perspective on Humans Part 2

About a Martian's perspective on human culture and behaviors such as relationships, diet, and communism.

THE MARTIAN MEMO

According to them the ideal relationship of the two sexes (there are only two which they acknowledge though an increasing number of them appear to belong to a third one) is the institution called marriage. For a female not to achieve this is considered to be unlucky and even unhappy, while a male who refuses or fails to attain it is more often than not called fortunate. Some are so enthusiastic about it that they make repeated attempts, even four or five times in their ridiculously short existence, to contract such a union. Their convention decrees that males and females, having achieved it, shall "live happily ever after." Yet most of their countries have ample provision for breaking the union. To this, elaborate rituals are attached which benefit considerably the strange tribe of lawyers mentioned above.

In several of their countries the leaders have managed the incredible feat of persuading the people that if they undergo immense privations and work as hard as animals, their grandchildren-who may never be born-will be both happy and free. This promise is safely made as there is no way of checking it against fact; what is unbelievable is the readiness with which the people believe it. True, the most fervent believers of this theory are men and women who live outside the countries mentioned.

Their diet is equally fantastic. They will, in their most highly civilized countries, eat any four-or two-legged animal that has horns but not the ones without-i.e., the mammals known as horses and donkeys. They will go to immense lengths to insure that their comestibles are clean and appetizing to look at; they also follow elaborate processes to render them tasteless.

Their females are traditionally afraid of a small animal called a mouse, but are delighted to wear the skins of much larger and fiercer animals upon their bodies.

They are passionate gamblers and are capable of a total suspension of disbelief in face of the most discouraging mathematical odds in pursuit of this passion. The successful gambler is one of their most universally venerated heroes; luck is supposed to equal morality and wisdom.

They spend a great deal more money on punishing the wrongdoer than on rewarding the upright, though what constitutes these two categories varies from place to place. To kill while wearing individual, or "civilian," garb is considered a heinous crime; to do the same wearing something called "uniform" and in a collective organization, is looked upon as heroism and patriotism. They are the only living beings on this planet who periodically set out to kill their own species at no visible profit to themselves.

Those who believe least in them create their own heavens and their own hells. Their greatest curse is the thing they call "sin," in which they have greater faith than in other things called "virtue" and "happiness" "Sin" changes form and color, acquires different penalties and rewards, in each age and in many of their countries. Those who are the most virtuous, according to their poor lights, are most conscious of sin and therefore most ready to attribute it to others. A few have learned that sin is the refusal to live up to the enlightenment which they possess, however rudimentary this may be.

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