Perspective: You Can Learn A Lot From A Martian Carrot

Jan 31, 2020


Recently I watched Howard Hawks’ 1951 movie The Thing From Another World, about a flying saucer alien who landed in the Arctic. As it turned out, “the Thing” was not an animal but a vegetable: a super-powerful, walking, homicidal carrot. Soon enough, these carrots from outer space would take over planet Earth. We non-carrots wouldn’t have a chance.  


What does it mean when we realize that something in our midst is just totally different from ourselves: you know, we’re broccoli but they’re carrots? The philosopher John Locke advised us to make a distinction between bodies and persons. Someone may have a similar body to ours -- we both have one nose and two eyes -- but they are profoundly different persons with totally different mindsets. We like to say, “If I were he,” but we aren’t he. We’re we, and he is he.  


This attitude can cut both ways. We can accept that some people are just different -- they’re carrots to our celery -- and give up trying to change them and live and let live. Or we can say, “They’re so hopelessly different and irredeemable that we shall simply have to get rid of them.”  


In the 1951 film, the Carrot Thing had to be destroyed, lest he destroy all Earthlings. But otherwise, I like to think that the Earthlings would have just let a walking carrot from Mars be free to continue as a walking carrot from Mars. That’s what I like to think, and I’m almost certainly being naïve.  


This is Tom McBride, I’m not a carrot, and that’s my Perspective.