Many years later I realized something. Before a gun
is fired, something else is fired, and that something else fires
the gun. The something is a learned angle of relation to the weapon
and circumstances. In other words, an acquired perspective.
If Klaatu intended to attack things, he probably wouldn’t
come out of his ship with a sidearm ready to face off an
entire sentient planet. So whoever shot him was out of their tiny
The problem is that back then, the human metaphor
for ‘small device at the hip’ was weapon.
Even now, in the 21st century it is not much different. So when
reached for the gift at his hip — a soldier actually
saw him reaching for a weapon — and shot him before he could
‘use it’. Literally, the soldier ‘invented’ the weapon,
and responded to reality as though his invention were real.
But the soldier’s metaphor was as flawed as
his logic: why would ‘thing-machine at the hip’ have
to equal sidearm? The answer is that we come to metaphy in ways
alike with our common environments and circumstance — in
a military barracks or a battlefield, this would be ‘rational’.
When a solider or police-person simulates combat in
their mind before encountering it — which you can bet they
do with some regularity all the time — they consider ‘where
the hands go and what they do before an attack’. Since the
soldier or cop is simulating this all the time in their minds, they
form models that are not only false, but actually create the circumstance
they are simulating by forcing others into a position of hostility
before any other sort of connectivity-transport can arise or prosper.
This, in part, is why Klaatu might actually be shot, in a similar
real-life situation. In fact, human children get shot like this
all the time. Adults, too.
Klaatu didn’t come to Earth to ‘play guns’.
He came to offer us something we already possessed, but continue
to stridently ignore — the benefits and responsibilities of
our very real inclusion in a celestial community. I don’t
want to misrepresent his character. Klaatu also brought a warning,
which carried with it a threat, and an ultimatum. He said that what
we were doing here was endangering many worlds, and that
if we refused to live and act in the hope and pursuit of fellowship,
rather than annihilation... then their federation would deliver
the annihilation we seek, immediately.
The general idea was that he was coming to let us
know that our organ in the celestial community was malfunctioning
dangerously, so they had to act before we can spread our chosen
disease, so to speak. He explained that if we refused to select
a path of mutual recognition and uplift, they’d send machines
(like Gort) which would turn the Earth to ash.
Certainly we would agree that the story we’re
examining is a fable. At the same time we might pause to consider
that since that story became known, our own machines have
very clearly been busy turning our world, cultures, liberties and
human intelligence into something a lot like ash.
But here’s the thing I noticed: Klaatu carried
something like the opposite of a gun at his hip: a unityWindow.
Not merely a phone to his own kind of people — but a way of
reaching any assembly of any sort people — anywhere... now.
And that is an interesting toy to pursue...
especially in a universe where, literally ‘no machine is required’.