A really close encounter

August 16, 1996|By David Grimes

I HAVE ALWAYS believed that there was life on Mars and I'm rather surprised it's taken scientists so long to prove it.

But the more interesting thing is that the organic material in the Martian meteorite is approximately the same age as the earliest life on Earth (3.4 billion years), raising the possibility, as Pogo might say, that "we have met the aliens, and they is us."

While some people might be sad to learn that we've been Martians all along, I find the news rather liberating. For example, I can now go see the movie "Independence Day" a second time and appreciate it from an entirely new perspective.

Instead of seeing the movie as an interplanetary death struggle, I now understand that the conflict is really nothing more than a family spat -- sort of like "The Waltons", the only difference being that there are much bigger explosions in "Independence Day" and the character of Grandpa Walton is played by a giant squid.

It's kind of nice not having to worry about Martians taking over our planet and turning us all into living organ donors, assuming you're the kind of person who worried about such things in the past. Instead, we Martians seem content to continually invade and reinvade ourselves, as World War I, World War II and 2 zillion other conflicts attest.

Alien abductions not only aren't scary anymore; they're something to look forward to. Sort of like a family reunion, only instead of serving potluck dinners, Aunt Elsie is planting a microchip in your brain.

But there's a downside to our Martian heritage, too. For example, the entire human condition can no longer be explained by Paul Gray's best-selling book, "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." It was comforting to know that the only reason men are insensitive pigs and women are emotional basket cases is that we come from different planets.

Now that we come to find out that men and women are from Mars, where does that leave us? Do we have to sort this out by talking to one another and compromising? Hopefully, Mr. Gray will write a new book, "Men Are From East Mars, Women Are From West Mars" and we can go back to our old, familiar relationships.

It is humbling to think that every living thing in the entire world is, at its core, Martian. All our thoughts, dreams, accomplishments -- all Martian.

And so, as I look at our world and what we've made of it, I think I speak for everyone when I say: "This is all their fault!"

David Grimes writes for the Herald Tribune in Sarasota, Fla.

Pub Date: 8/16/96

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