The Big Universe

I received three robocalls from Barack Obama in the days before the election. I listened to the first and cut short the second and third. The President implored me to vote because so much was at stake.

I had a brief conversation with the man who phoned on behalf of Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. John Sarbanes. He wanted to know if the two could count on me. I explained that I’ve called their offices many times to ask that they stop funding war. And that I’ve always received the obligatory acknowledgment, thanking me for my input. Then, I told the caller, “But they continue to vote for war, so, no, since I can’t count on them, they cannot count on me.”

War wasn’t an issue in this election. Despite the WikiLeaks documents, despite the number of military funerals, the brain injured, the climbing suicide rate among veterans, the trillions spent on the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and despite the deaths of Iraqi and Afghan civilians, including children, there is no war debate. It seems war is the concern of antiwar activists, families of troops, and the people who live in the countries we’ve destroyed or are threatening to attack.

As I watched the election returns, I learned that on the ballot in Denver, Colorado was an initiative to create an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commissions with the following mission statement:

It’s a BIG universe but we need to share it with others who are not from Earth.

Our grand mission is dedicated to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of human beings in relation to interactions with extraterrestrial beings, and to creating peaceful, harmonious, and mutually beneficial relationships between all beings in the universe.

The results of the election are clear. Angry voters changed the trajectories of many politicians who didn’t represent their interests. But what these voters don’t understand is that they’ve elected to Congress people who still will not represent their interests. Those who wear the honorific of senator or representative are influenced by their corporate masters, not their constituents. And while Congressmen and women hail from neighborhoods throughout the US, their goal is to create mutually beneficial relationships with Wall Street and establishments within the D.C. Beltway.

The Denver initiative for an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission was overwhelmingly defeated. Earthlings there didn’t want to be ridiculed by the rest of the world. Strange, isn’t it? Because our reputation couldn’t be worse.

Americans have a legitimate right to be angry. The problems confronting us—loss of Constitutional rights, economic disaster, joblessness, poverty, foreclosures, healthcare costs, the worst environmental catastrophe in our history, and the war of terror that’s been expanded to Pakistan and Yemen—have not been addressed.

Maybe we should examine the Denver initiative, taking seriously the mission statement. But, first, we might make the effort here on our own planet to ensure “the health, safety and welfare of human beings” before we attempt peaceful negotiation with any life form that might possibly exist outside Earth. And we, also, should consider the strong probability that if life does exist beyond what we assume to know, the extraterrestrials could be sapient beings—much more evolved than we.

MISSY BEATTIE lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Her email address is missybeat@gmail.com.


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Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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