November 1, 2017
I'd planned a journal entry today that would deal with an aspect of writing, how to give life to characters, or why it's not a good idea to go into long explanations, or something. Yesterday whatever it was, it seemed like a good idea. This morning, in the wake of another lunatic running loose in New York City, killing strangers for no reason other than that he thinks it makes God happy, writing considerations seem hopelessly trivial.
The latest news report indicates the idiot, now in a hospital, shows no sign of regret. Normal human beings commit relatively minor infractions, failing to say thanks to a parent before losing contact, disappearing from a relationship without comment, not delivering on a commitment, and we live with it forever, wishing we could go back and make things right. Most of us live our lives hoping we will not harm anyone else. But this individual is different.
Martians have fascinated me since I was four years old. One of the great disappointments of my life came when I discovered there were no canals. I often wondered during those early years what others who grew up in a different star system might be like. My gut feeling, which has shown up in my writing, is that if they are part of a civilization that has prospered, that has survived any length of time, they will probably look different, but in all the ways that matter they will be like us. Love thy neighbor. It will be the basic component of any rational civilization.
When the Twin Towers were brought down, the Onion published a faux news reports that has stayed with me. God has called a press conference. He stands behind a lectern, addressing a roomful of reporters who want Him to explain how these terrible things happen. Especially crimes committed in His name.
"How clear," He asks, "can I make it? Thou shalt not kill."
Maybe we should recognize that the root word in civilization is civil.