A Martian's Perspective on Humans Part 3

About a Martian's perspective on human culture and behaviors such as drugs, progress, and success.


They pay immense amounts of their money to people who can make them laugh or weep. They are light-years away from realizing that perfection can be achieved only by those who are beyond both. Yet sometimes I felt envious of this talent which, as you know, we Martians have lost long ago.

They have some individuals who call themselves pessimists and pretend always to expect the worst. But they still rise in the morning, eat and drink, get married, and produce offspring. To them, the greatest boon to be expected would be the end of the world; yet they do not seem capable of action that would hasten the fulfillment of this desire.

Their stimulants are incredibly crude. The most prevalent is called alcohol. It has, in the end, disastrous effects, yet the revenue of their countries consists to a large extent of tax levied on it. Their other drug is tobacco, which is equally noxious but equally profitable to their governments. These two are permitted, while many others-to name only a few, opium, cocaine, heroin, morphine, and a score more-are outlawed. I met one human who was an antialcoholist. He explained that this was not because he did not need it to achieve illusions but because even without it he could reach the unpleasant condition they call a hangover.

It is an essential quality of this planet that for its inhabitants truth is the hardest thing to prove.

What would you think of creatures who, setting out on a journey of 100 miles (to use their measure of distance), would travel 20 on the first day, return on the second day to their starting point, cover 40 miles on the third day, go back again where they started from, then on the fifth finally reach their goal? Yet this is, I assure you, a fairly accurate description of what they call "human progress."

They desire success desperately but find no happiness in achieving it. They would not believe anyone who told them that success was getting what you wanted and happiness was wanting what you got. Nor that there is often far less danger in the things they fear than in the things they desire.

Their sympathy is the most natural and amiable from of bias. Whether they talk or keep silent, they cannot escape misunderstanding. Because they are mutually burdensome to each other, they have invented something they call "good manners." Most of their leaders do not really want to lead, only to be followed. Their complex game called "politics" is their art to demand of others all they cannot or will not do themselves. For them it is easier to travel around the world than journey to the core of their minds. They discover the necessity of freedom only when they have lost it.

... And yet I like them.

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