27 – “Feel Good” Problems

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Human: “You know, Mr. Super Brilliant Alien, you’re really getting tiresome to deal with lately. Why do you constantly belittle our efforts to solve the serious global problems that we’re confronted with? We’re not as inept as you think.” 

Alien: “Then why do you only focus on ‘feel good’ problems, while ignoring the others, which are far more likely to finish you off?” 

Human: “Huh? Care to be more specific?” 

Alien: “Not really, but I’m having a slow Earth day, so let’s give it a try. I doubt the conversation will go anywhere, though. Our discussions rarely lead to any constructive action on your part.”

Human: “So why do you even bother? Why not leave us alone and go back to wherever you came from?” 

Alien: “Great question! At any rate, here’s an example. Global warming is a ‘feel good’ problem. It affects the entire planet, but most importantly, it requires cooperation from all of humanity to solve it. Every culture, every civilization, every country must pull together in global harmony to tackle this existential threat. How am I doing? Sound about right?” 

Human: “Absolutely! We must unite our efforts globally to reorganize our economies around renewable, clean energy. Our planet is warming up at an alarming rate, and could threaten our very survival.” 

Alien: “I agree with you for a change. And, in addition, you’re screwing up the survival of many other creatures. Not to mention significantly altering weather patterns. However, despite all of your flowery rhetoric, there may be winners and losers. Countries in the higher latitudes might benefit from a bit of global warming. They may not be as inclined to panic as much compared to those in drier and hotter climes.”

Human: “That’s not true. All countries and climates will suffer.” 

Alien: “Whatever. What do I know, anyway?” 

Human: “At any rate, what are these other pressing problems that you claim we’re ignoring?”

Alien: “Oh my goodness! Where do I start? So many to choose from! Well, I don’t want to overwhelm you, so let’s start with just one. Nuclear weapons. In case you haven’t noticed, they’re very dangerous. When you first started exploding them, people panicked. They built bomb shelters in their basements, had safety drills in schools, and set up civil defense units in case of a nuclear attack. Now, most humans don’t think twice about them. Do you know how long it would take a submarine-launched nuclear missile to arrive at your front door? About fifteen minutes. Don’t worry, though. It travels so fast that you’d never hear it before it vaporized you.” 

Human: “Every intelligent citizen of the world is concerned about nuclear weapons.”

Alien: “Really? Take a look at your news media. Every day, there are countless articles about global warming. I don’t see much about the spread of nuclear weapons, though. And do you know why? Because it’s a ‘feel bad’ problem. You developed these weapons to kill each other. Global warming wasn’t developed by anyone. It’s certainly a serious problem, but no one invented it to intentionally kill other humans. While it’s easy to characterize global warming as a ‘feel good’ problem, that’s not true for nuclear weapons. Some countries have them, and some don’t. And the countries that have them are only worried about their enemies. They’re not worried about their allies. For example, your so-called United States, which doesn’t appear to be very united these days, isn’t losing sleep over the fact that England, France, and Israel have nuclear weapons. But they’re sure worried about China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.”

Human: “Everyone agrees that the world would be better off without nuclear weapons.” 

Alien: “Not the ones who have them. And if your premise is true, then what are you doing about it? Not much. Because it’s a ‘feel bad’ problem. It pits one country against another. Suspicions abound. New technologies develop. Miniaturization of warheads. Faster delivery systems. The race is on! Better stay ahead of the next guy, or he’ll blow you to smithereens!”

Human: “Well, I don’t agree that we’re ignoring the problem.” 

Alien: “From my perspective, you’re definitely ignoring it. Especially compared to the endless stream of panicked stories in the news about global warming. Or maybe you can only focus on one problem at a time? I forgot about your limited intellect. Is that the issue?” 

Human: “Very funny. We’re perfectly capable of focusing on multiple issues, thank you. And I don’t buy your argument about nuclear weapons. We are working on it. Any other examples?”

Alien: “Too many to count. How about when that little virus spread around the globe, killing millions?” 

Human: “You mean COVID-19?” 

Alien: “Exactly.”

Human: “So, what about it? The world was clearly united in fighting that deadly threat.” 

Alien: “Really? All open cooperation from every nation? Everyone holding hands? Wasn’t there initially a bit of controversy about where it came from, Human? Or did you forget that?” 

Human: “It came from Mother Nature.”

Alien: “Are you sure about that?” 

Human: “If you’re referring to that ridiculous ‘lab leak’ hypothesis, we have nothing to discuss. I refuse to engage in wild-eyed conspiracy theories.”

Alien: “I didn’t say anything about a conspiracy. But there is ample evidence that prior leaks have occurred at other labs around the world. It is well-documented. A lab leak doesn’t have to be intentional. Do you know that there are over 20 countries working on deadly viruses?”

Human: “And your point?” 

Alien: “My point is that when the virus first appeared, the possibility that scientists may have accidentally leaked the virus from a lab was studiously ignored. And the country in question has not exactly been encouraging further research into the matter. And why did the scientists from other nations around the world quickly sweep the idea under the rug? For the simple reason that if they pointed their fingers at a lab leak, they would be pointing their fingers at themselves. It isn’t prudent to cast stones from glass houses. So, the lab leak hypothesis was quickly put aside. After all, that would be a “feel bad” problem. Once it was decided that the virus emanated from Mother Nature, it became a ‘feel good’ problem. Everybody could hold hands and work together in global harmony to defeat the evil virus. But if it came from a lab, it becomes a ‘feel bad’ problem, because then you foolish humans would have to ask yourselves ‘Why are we screwing around with deadly viruses?’ And that’s not a question that you want to answer, because it falls into the same category as nuclear weapons. You’re screwing around with deadly viruses to potentially develop a new weapon.” 

Human: “That type of research is strictly for defensive purposes. We’re trying to get ahead of the curve, in case a deadly virus emerges from Mother Nature.” 

Alien: “So you’re claiming that no one’s been working on this stuff for offensive reasons? Are you kidding me, Human, or kidding yourself? There are well-documented cases of research into biological and chemical weapons. Or have you been too busy reading about global warming to have noticed?” 

Human: “Well, our discussion has taken its usual negative course. Maybe one day you’ll surprise us and have something nice to say.” 

Alien: “Perhaps at your funeral. That’s normally when you humans gloss over the stupid parts of your lives and focus on the nice things. Perhaps I can scare up a few of my Alien buddies to attend. Do you have anything in particular you want me to say? ‘Oh, these humans meant well, but ended up destroying themselves. Never truly knowing the cause. No moment of truth. No deep revelation. May they rest in peace, along with all of the other species they have driven to extinction.’ Well, time to go! I only have so much breath to waste on you foolish humans today. Have fun with your ‘feel good’ problems! Bye, Bye!” 

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