Fiction and a touch of reality
As much of the world watches with anxiety over the horrific developments in Ukraine, with indescribable suffering and death resulting from the Russian invasion, the future of global order that provides stability and peace between all nations seems a piece of scientific fiction usually seen on the big screen at a Saturday afternoon matinee.
The tragic Ukraine situation led to a reflection of the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still. It was science fiction movie about a spaceship landing in a park area of Washington. The message of the movie was to reveal how use of violence to settle issues could lead to ultimate disaster for life on this planet.
An outstanding production, which proved a hit with moviegoers at a time when television was not yet the giant attraction it is today. The movie theatre was the place for watching adventure, with a sound system that added to the experience. There were times when fiction mingled with reality in dealing various events that affect daily living.
The Day the Earth Stood Still was one of those films that had meaning for the world today. These are troubling times with some leaders who are so power-hungry that they are willing to resort to any tactic that would send a clear signal that any type of opposition to their policies would be met with harsh, deadly treatment. No fiction here.
After two major world wars, and numerous conflicts that caused millions to die, violence remains a tool used by some leaders to achieve objectives steeped in gaining further power without any concern about innocent victims caught in the crossfire.
Ukraine has become a household word, as powerful nations on Earth are embroiled in an international dilemma. No quick solutions in sight for ending what has become a tragedy for Ukraine as it seeks to remain an independent country rather than become part of Russia.
Back to that film — an alien emerged from the spaceship as soldiers had taken up positions around the craft, guns drawn, and ready for any sign of hostility. The alien was played by a rising British star, Michael Rennie, who had a distinctive manner of speaking. He was shot and wounded, before he could say a word, by a soldier who thought an object he was holding in his hand was some type of weapon.
As it turned out, the object was meant to be a peace gesture for leaders of the nation. Moments later, a tall robot emerged from the craft and disarmed every soldier without injury.
From that point, authorities realised that something beyond their understanding was taking place because the shot from that soldier’s rifle did not trigger a violent reaction. Fiction for certain.
However, the movie is perhaps best remembered for words spoken by the alien at the end of the film. Those words would be so fitting for the world today. Before a large gathering that included scientists and politicians, along with curious citizens, he cautioned what would happen to a world where solving issues by violent methods leaves no winners. However, he went a step farther.
Before boarding his spacecraft, he warned that if there was any attempt to export such violence to outer space, this earth would be reduced to a burnt-out cinder. He assured those listening that the galaxy would be waiting for an answer.
His final words: “The decision rests with you.”
Fiction, yes, but a degree of truth when it comes to mankind’s inability to share this planet in peace and harmony. Large and small countries could learn much about living in a peaceful healthy atmosphere, without fear of violent criminals who create huge problems for police the world over.
No country, including our beautiful Bermuda, is immune to criminal violence that often spoils what this island community stands for. A lot needs to be done to improve this situation.
The present Ukraine crisis is not a movie, as real people trying to live peacefully are being killed by weapons from a powerful Russian arsenal. The deep wounds from this war, which has been condemned throughout most of the world, will not heal overnight.
The Day the Earth Stood Still may have been just another sci-fi movie, but its message will always be relevant. The world must say no to those who feel justified in clinging to power, especially when to do so it means killing innocent men, women and children.
Peace will become a reality for our world only when leaders commit themselves to truth and decency, rather than whatever will keep them in power.
If American and Russian scientists can work together on the international space station orbiting the Earth, it should be a lesson for all that working as a team is the only road to peace.
It will be up to people of this world to ensure that democracy is kept alive with a voting system that enables them to use that power to elect those they feel will best represent good values for supporting a healthy, safe and peaceful society. That is the only real hope for a better world.