Monday, July 16, 2012

This is Not the Poster You're Looking For

From time to time, every single person on this planet is irrational.  For most people, their irrationality presents itself in their belief systems.  Some of these belief systems are religious, and some are cultural.  Christians believe a woman once gave birth without ever having had sex, even though we know that’s not how reproduction works.  And if anyone told them it was happening again, they probably wouldn’t believe that--because, obviously, something like that can only ever happen once.  Jews believe a dude parted a sea by telling it to part, and they believe that a miracle is when oil lasts longer than it should.  Children believe a fat guy can fit down their chimneys, and adults believe it’s somehow kind to convince children of this lie, only to break their hearts with the truth later.  People, from time to time, are irrational.

I don’t blame them.  I’d like it if people were irrational less often, and I’d like it if they guided their irrationality with kindness, or any semblance of a true moral code, but I don’t blame them for holding to their beliefs.

Mainly because I kind of believe in aliens.

Alright, let me qualify: I don’t entirely believe in aliens.  I believe that the universe is so incredibly vast that it’s stupid to assume this is the only planet with life on it, and I believe that wherever there is life, there is also the possibility for intelligent life.  And I believe that people lie.  Governments, companies, people on the street, people in your homes.  People lie.

So, in short, I believe that maybe things have happened on this planet and people have lied about them.

So, now, let me rephrase.  I do not actually believe in aliens, or in anything mystical, or in anything greater than what I can see with my own eyes.  But I want to believe.

I guess you could ask me why I’d want to believe in aliens over god, but then you’d be missing the point.  The point is that belief does not come to me naturally.  So you ask me to believe in god, to start up cold, to look in the face of evil done in the name of religion and to pretend it doesn’t matter because god is real, well...I can’t.  I can’t believe in an altruistic all-powerful being when children starve to death every day, but the Catholic hierarchy sees fit to scream at some nuns for being more concerned with helping the poor than demonizing gays and women who have sex.  I can’t ignore the evils of religion, and I can’t believe in something with absolutely no proof.

But I can maybe believe in the possibility of aliens.  Nobody started a war over aliens.  Aliens don’t hate gays.  Aliens don’t care about abortion.  Aliens don’t care about you, one way or the other, except for curiosity’s sake.  Sure, people claim that aliens have captured them in the night and raped and/or performed surgery on them, but I don’t believe those accounts.  And even if I did, that would be a lesser evil to behold than most.

And maybe aliens could represent something a little greater than myself.  Maybe if aliens exist, other things exist, too.  Maybe there are more things in this universe than dreamt of in my philosophy.  Like weird little gray men who want to know what makes us work.  I can go with that.

A lot of this belief--or semi-belief--can be represented by one simple poster.  Here it is, hanging over Agent Fox Mulder’s desk.

I love that poster.  It’s beautiful.  I love that whole desk.  It’s not dissimilar to mine---covered, graffitied almost, by the evidence of its owner’s passions.  And that shining symbol at its center--I want to believe.  I want to believe in endless possibility.  I want to believe we are not alone.  I want to believe that humanity’s struggle might gain meaning, not oblivion, from a universal context.

I doesn’t mean I do believe.  Only that I want to.

So when I thought I’d found that poster at an open-air market in the middle of my college campus a few years ago, I thought it was kismet.  I’d scoured the internet for years looking for that thing, only to find message board after message board telling me that the only one that ever existed was the one on set and that it was lost to the sands of time (which here means: a private collection) years ago.

Of course, when I looked at it a little more closely, I realized it wasn’t the right poster.  You can see a little string coming away from the little saucer, the quality of the picture isn’t clear enough, the trees aren’t high enough.  I felt a little deflated.  And then I bought it anyway.

It’s not the right poster.  It’s a cheap imitation.  But I decided it didn’t matter.  The poster is only a metaphor, anyway.  It stands in for the real thing.  The real thing is somewhere I can’t touch.  I’ve only heard of it in whispers, and I have no real evidence that it even exists.  Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.  I can’t ever know for sure.

But I want to believe.

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