Take Me To Your Leader
I live in the land of the hypothetical, and I like it here. Have you ever wondered what aliens would think of humanity if viewed from a distance? I’ve read a couple of books in the last few years that tackle just this question. (No, I won’t tell you which books, because that would be mean and spoiler-y, but if you’ve read them, you can probably guess which ones I’m talking about.) In these books, aliens think of us the way we think of insects. Nobody wants a cockroach infestation in their new home, so it seems reasonable for them to fumigate the place before they move in. I mean, humans just icky bugs, right?
Alright… I’m not exactly compassionate about bugs moving into my house, but the ones I’ve met are never this articulate. (Source)
I got to thinking about which books I’d provide aliens with to prove that humans are more than just mindless vermin. I know there are a ton of really amazing intellectual type novels and classics that would show humanity’s artsy prowess, but that’s not really what speaks to me. I’m talking about compassion, people! I like flawed characters, I like redemption, I like tiny acts of kindness in a barren landscape of horrible. Sure, these are all fiction, but I have no doubt that such things go on. Dear Aliens, sometimes humans can be wonderful in spite of themselves. OBSERVE:
1. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. I know, I know, Buddy’s arm made my last list, but this book is so full of good stuff. I’m thinking in particular about Idgy and Grady teaming up to burgle trains and distribute food to starving people in shantytowns during the Great Depression. Grady had some questionable traits, (clubbing with the dudes in white sheets is NOT COOL) but darn it if he didn’t help Idgy figure out the train schedules and get food to people of all colors. I like to think his heart wasn’t in the hate.
2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (see also Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi.). Nazi Germany during WWII. Can you think of a darker time and place in human history? And yet, even in this hideous landscape, there were small pockets of goodness. People standing up to tyranny in ways large and small. Concealing a Jewish friend at great personal peril. Saving a book from burning. Being decent and not getting sucked into the gaping maw of hatred. That. (My Review)
3. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. I’m reviewing this next week, but it’s so freaking heartwarming. It talks about mental illness with the confusion and compassion of a family member witnessing a loved one’s decline. It talks about picking up the shattered pieces of a broken life. It shows illustrates the power of friendship… I don’t care if anybody thinks it’s too darn sweet, I’ll go down swinging for the merits of CeeCee!
4. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. This book was fabulous, but exceptionally appropriate because May is so kindhearted she won’t even kill bugs. That’s right, no killing of bugs. Don’t kill us, Aliens!!!
5. Plainsong by Kent Haruf. This book gives a fantastic portrait of small town life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. But there are some really fantastic characters. The middle aged McPheron brothers taking in the pregnant and penniless teen Victoria? With ZERO ulterior motives and a whole lot of heart? If that’s not compassionate, I don’t know what is! (My Review)
Hollywood fabrication, Aliens, I promise. You would get to pick out your own hat. (Source)
What about you, Bookworms? What books would you offer up to aliens as proof that humanity is worth saving?
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