In the past two millenniums, humans' situation has evolved a lot. We have come a long way
since the Roman empire. Many new types of technologies have been discovered and
developed. Today, our knowledge and understanding of different types of phenomenons have
increased tremendously. Among other things, we have been able to understand how nature
works and how we have been created. We even considered the fact that we might not be the
only civilization in this immense universe. Yet, there is still one big gap to be filled; we still
don't understand how human nature works. Human nature is a very difficult concept to
understand. This is because each person has its own personality, behaviour, beliefs and values.
It should be in our best interest to understand ourselves in order to prevent problems and
conflicts caused by disagreements between ourselves. Nowadays we live in difficult periods;
many conflicts, crimes and other problems occur very often.
We don't really realize it but most
of these problems are due to our lack of understanding each other and even ourselves... In this
sense, we could say that humans are not aware of their own blindness. To prove this I'll be
analyzing two books we read (Sphere & The Left Hand of Darkness) and a movie we saw
(Enemy Mine) trying to see what kind of ideas each story shows about human nature.
In a first place, Sphere tries to emphasize the idea that most of us tend to ignore our
subconscious. We all had a fear, an idea or a dream that we don't want to talk about.
Sometimes it could be strange thoughts that we had or something similar. We don't want to
talk about them because they shock us and they make us feel uncomfortable. Often we don't
even realize when these thoughts happen because it all happens in our subconscious. The
subconscious is the part of our mind that holds the forbidden, the unknown of us, and all the
part of us that we're afraid to show. Jung's theory of the subconscious calls this the Shadow.
In Sphere we have some examples of people who are not able to control their Shadow and who
suffer due to their wild imagination. Our subconscious also holds a lot of preconceptions and
misconceptions about a multitude of things. For example in Sphere, when the characters
explore the ship, they see many things similar to the ones they know exist on earth. This is
because their subconscious is creating all what they see. They have preconceptions about how
the inside of a space shuttle should look like, and this it's why all the things appear familiar to
them. In this sense, we could compare the attitude of the characters from Sphere with people
from our society who have preconceived ideas and misconceptions about a number of things.
For example, let's say someone invites you to eat at an Indian restaurant and, while you may
have never tried one, you already think that the food is disgusting. This is because we have a
preconceived idea of Indian food.
In a second place, in The Left Hand of Darkness we have an analyze of the behaviour of a man
who is put in a strange situation. His primary reaction about Ghetenians in the beginning of
the book is a bit strange. He has a hard time understanding their behaviour. He has
preconceptions of what men and women are supposed to be, of how they have to act. Here we
can make a parallel with our behaviour related to guay, lesbians, etc.; we have preconceived
ideas about them and tend to avoid them or to ignore them. Unfortunately this isn't a solution
and by doing so we are just putting away something that we should resolve. Now getting back
to the book, when Mr. Ai says 'It seems likely that they were an experiment' and 'their
ambisexuality has little or no adaptive value' (p.89) we can say that he makes his opinion too
fast. He barely knows them. He is just trying to find reasons to justify their difference instead
of trying to understand and discover their way of acting and their values. This shows that
humans tend to misunderstand and to disregard different cultures and values than their own.
In this sense, we could say that these preconceived ideas bring up a lot conflicts and problems.
For example, we get religious wars like the one in the ex-Yugoslavia which lasts since three
years. All this just because we are not able to understand ourselves and we don't agree on a
issue. Unfortunately yes. There are solutions however, as the book shows us, we have to learn
to understand a different culture, to respect it and to respect its values. The book shows us this
perspective on page 283 where we can see that Mr. Ai has become very attached with his
friend. This proves that we have the capacity and intelligence to understand another culture
what we're missing is the willingness.
Finally, Enemy Mine tries to show us the initial reaction that someone would have when
invaded by aliens, and how this reaction may change in time when we finally get to know and
understand the behaviour of an alien. As we've seen at the beginning, Davidge is very upset
when his friend is shut down by a Drak and he tries to do anything to kill him. He maintains
his attitude for a while until he realizes that Zamish is not that evil after all. After having spent
some time with Zamish, Davidge learns his language, his habits and he starts to read a Drak
religion book. This proves that we have a lot misconceptions and preconceptions about aliens
and more generally about people; we tend to misunderstand people who are different from us,
who act differently, and who believe in other values than ours. This is the main message that
this movie is trying to give. Another important message that this movie brings up is that we
tend to have weird attitudes, to maltreat someone different, to profit of their kindness and
innocence. In many cases this could be considered as racism. In Enemy Mine we have an
example of this when a group of Draks is used as slaves for the exploitation of a mine. We
could compare this image to the black people who were used as slaves by the white people a
few decades ago. In this sense this is another point on which this movie tries to make us
reflect. Some of these messages make us ask some questions: why were white people so racist
before; why, some, are still racist today; why in some cases men are preferred to women for
certain jobs and why are they better paid than women? An answer to this questions could be
the fact that we don't understand what is different from us. We often consider that what is
different, what is alien is bad and that we don't have anything to learn from them. Another
explanation to this is that we are afraid of what is different.
In conclusion, I have to say that the works we studied this semester made us think about all
these ideas like friendship, intercultural relations, acceptance of otherness, absurdity of racism,
absurdity and harmful effects of war, inequality between women and men, etc. This proves
that there is a serious lack of knowledge of self, of self-unconscious and of others in human
nature. But what is more dramatic about it is that we, Humans, are not aware of our blindness.