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The Day the Earth Stood Still


On our flight back to Sydney from Kenya on the weekend, Cherry and I watched a movie called "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (a remake of a film that first came out decades ago). I was deeply impressed with it in several ways.

Movies about aliens virtually all focus on the dilemma about whether to treat aliens as enemies or to (perhaps naively) treat them as friends. There are powerful arguments for both approaches. However, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" is unique in that it shows both aspects in the same people.

The aliens are a highly developed species who can see the bigger picture, and who want to save the world. But they also see that it may be necessary to destroy the human race in order to do it. They delay making such a decision for a very long time, but eventually find it necessary to make their move. To me, this is a wonderful picture of one aspect of The Revelation. This loving God comes back to "destroy those who destroy the earth", not because he is hateful or cruel, but because it becomes necessary in terms of the bigger picture. The way it was put in TDTESS was something like this: "If we leave you humans to go on destroying the earth, you will destroy yourselves in the process; but if we destroy you, we may at least be able to save the earth."

What viewers see in these aliens are restrained, caring people, who also see the need to exercise discipline... a much better portrayal of life in the real world than what usually comes through with monstrous baddies and lilly white goodies.

The movie also dealt (though somewhat superficially) with the questions of whether or not people are capable of change, and if they are, what are the changes that are needed. The movie's credibility, unfortunately, totally falls apart as the producers seek to give the audience the happy ending that they so much crave. But the observation of an alien who had lived on the earth for sixty years while studying our civilisation, is far more believable. He says that he has noted that the human race in general is not willing to change, and that they mankind will go to its grave supporting the status quo rather than make the huge changes that are needed to save the planet.

It is amazing that this movie made it to the box office at all; but it seems that one of the compromises (apart from the shallow happy ending) that was needed to get it into the theatres was not to be specific about what the changes are that people need to make. So I will say a little about that here instead:

At the moment, about half the world is still lives a very basic lifestyle, often centered around a village economy. It's not luxurious, and they go without many things; but it is doable. Most of what they eat and much of what they use and wear is grown and produced by themselves or by others in their village. This is precisely the kind of lifestyle that would be most effective in virtually eliminating the carbon footprint that is crushing the rest of the world. But this is the kind of "inconvenient truth" that even people like Al Gore do not want to shove in the faces of an obscenely indulgent world.

So we go on telling ourselves that there are cost-free solutions that can be worked out by our governments one day; in the meantime, we can go on living our lives as normal, perhaps using cloth shopping bags instead of plastic ones as our "contribution" to save the world.

Of course, anyone with a modicum of sense can see that it's going to take a lot more than that; and yet we cover our eyes and hope that it will all go away.

One final positive observation about TDTESS, is that it included what appears to be an obvious reference to The Revelation, when the storyline called for great hordes of metallic locusts that devour metal (and everything else in their paths) as the instrument of the aliens' judgment on the world. (See Revelation 9:7-9.) As I observed this metal insect army consuming a whole semi-trailer in just a few seconds, it became clear that this is precisely the kind of change that needs to happen to save both the planet and the human race. We need to learn to live without the trucks, and without the football stadiums, and without the sky scrapers, and a lot more of our modern technology if the world is going to be saved.

But it's nigh on impossible to get the world to stand still long enough to even consider such options.
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