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It's not an alien invasion
On unidentified objects over Lake Huron, what Reagan said to Gorbachev, and showing charity to our opponents
The odds are slim to none that what the US Air Force shot down over Lake Huron was anything extraterrestrial. The series of unwelcome objects over North American airspace has caught a lot of attention, but it's unlikely to be the opening salvo in a real-life version of the now-classic film "Independence Day". For what should be obvious reasons, that's welcome news.
■ On more than one occasion, Ronald Reagan wondered aloud what would happen if Earth were faced with an alien invasion. He raised it in a 1987 speech to the United Nations: "I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world." And he brought it up directly in conversation with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985.
■ What Reagan's question -- and our current quandary -- ought to do is concentrate our thoughts on just how unproductive it is to squabble for the sake of scoring petty points when there really are serious threats to peaceful coexistence in the world.
■ A small but noisy band of dopes are very good at promoting division for its own sake among people who generally agree with one another on the biggest issues and differ predominantly at the margins alone. If you're an American living in 2023, you probably agree more with almost any given neighbor of yours about what is basically important than you would even have agreed with any given American of 150 years ago -- long before the 19th Amendment or two essential victories in world wars or the Civil Rights era. Those were character-shaping turning points for the country, and now almost all of us agree without serious question about what they wrought.
■ Yet it isn't hard to find people who want to label people across the aisle as evil. When people spend too much time routinely vilifying those who are merely their political opponents, they diminish the impact of words like "evil". True evil is rare, but it exists. We see it, for instance, in the evidence of first-person responsibility at the highest levels of the Russian government for decades of terrorism against innocent people. That kind of evil should be cursed unflinchingly.
■ For mere "family squabbles" in our domestic politics, we ought to have more grace. Not because our differences don't matter, but because they pale in comparison with the evils that are self-evident around the globe. It shouldn't take the threat of an alien invasion to get us to think charitably of one another.
Dall-E has a curious interpretation of aliens on the White House lawn