Billy expected the Tralfamadorians to be baffled and alarmed by all the wars and other forms of murder on Earth. He expected them to fear that the Earthling combination of ferocity and spectacular weaponry might eventually destroy part of maybe all of the innocent Universe. Science fiction led him to expect that.
But the subject of war never came up until Billy brought it up himself. Somebody in the zoo crowd asked him through the lecturer what the most valuable thing he had learned on Tralfamdore was so far, and Billy replied, "How the inhabitants of a whole planet can live in peace! As you know, I am from a planet that has been engaged in senseless slaughter since the beginning of time. I myself have seen the bodies of schoolgirls who were boiled alive in a water tower by my own countrymen, who were proud of fighting pure evil at the time." This was true. Billy saw the boiled bodies in Dresden. "And I have lit my way in a prison at night with candles from the fat of humans who were butchered by the brothers and fathers of those schoolgirls who were boiled. Earthlings must be the terrors of the Universe! If other planets aren't now in danger from Earth, they soon will be. So tell me the secret so I can take it back to Earth and save us all. How can a planet live at peace?"
Billy felt that he spoken soaringly. He was baffled when he saw the Tralfamadorians close their little hands on their eyes. He knew from past experiences what this meant. He was being stupid.
Billy thinks he's being profound, seeking to end wars and murders and violence on Earth. He's spurning the destructive nature of the human race and turning toward Tralfamadorian peace. Billy thinks his zookeepers will applaud his speech, maybe elevate him to the status of star attraction, right next to Spock from Vulcan or Klaatu from The Day the Earth Stood Still. Of course, as with almost everything else, Billy is wrong. He's thinking like an Earthling again. Shortsighted. Three-dimensional. He doesn't get the big picture. Yet.
Of course, Billy's little speech seems pretty good to me, and probably to most inhabitants of Earth. The human race does have a tendency to kill itself in various and horrific ways. Wars. Climate change. Trumpcare. We like finding new ways to increase pain and suffering and death. It's our natural state.
I would like to say that we've gotten a little better since Billy first landed on Tralfamadore, but we really haven't. We still drop bombs on people. We still deny the existence of global warming. And we still think that Google is a verb. We haven't really gotten much past gnawing on dinosaur bones and fighting over water holes. (Yes, that is a veiled reference to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.)
Today, my wife ended up in the ER. She was dehydrated and had to get some IV fluids. She's feeling much better now, but she spent a good portion of the weekend with a bucket in her lap, dry heaving. It wasn't pleasant. She has learned her lesson, however. Water is our friend.
My wife is not dumb. She knows how important it is to stay hydrated, especially after her surgery. She has been on a liquid diet for the past two weeks and got a little over watered, if you get my drift. So she stopped drinking as much, and she got sick.
That's what humans do. We do things that harm us. We go to war. We back out of climate change accords. We blow each other up. And we do it over and over and over and over and over. We don't learn from our mistakes. Instead, we just make bigger mistakes.
Okay, I know that was a huge leap from my wife not drinking water to the depletion of the ozone, but you get it. We will never have world peace or end world hunger or stop making stupid Adam Sandler movies. Not until everyone on the planet is dehydrated enough to realize that they need to take a drink of water. Hopefully I didn't push that metaphor too far.
Tonight, Saint Marty is thankful that his wife is full of water again.