08/16/2011 03:17 pm ET | Updated Oct 16, 2011

Alien Nation

As a nation, we're obsessed with aliens -- and I'm not just talking about the anti-immigrant rants of the GOP. I'm talking about the insect-like, nasty ass space monsters we think will invade Earth. Don't believe me? Take, for example, the following movies and television shows of just the past two years: Battle: LA, Skyline, V, Falling Skies, The Darkest Hour, Super 8, etc.

The plot lines are by and large the same. The aliens come to Earth, blow shit up, rape the planet and usually abduct and/or enslave us. Oh, and billions of humans are slaughtered in the process. Of course, we have no real reason to assume that aliens would be hostile. So why do we? Perhaps it's an unconscious reflection of our own actions.

Consider this conversation I had at a recent dinner party when the subject of animal experimentation came up. I stated very plainly that I think it's unethical to test on animals. That it's not fair to cause them pain and suffering just for our benefit. Especially, when a majority of animal testing done in this country is for things like cosmetics, household cleaners and insecticides. What right do we have?

A man from across the table grinned, "Don't you get it, we're the superior species. We're smarter than them. We're more evolved and more advanced. That's what gives us the right."

I responded, "So, are you saying that if a 'superior species' of space aliens landed tomorrow and they wanted to pour their insecticides down our throats, and test their chemicals on us -- if they had horrible diseases they couldn't cure and they wanted to infect us with them -- that it would be OK just because they're smarter than us?"

The table went silent for a minute. "I never thought about it that way," he answered. Indeed, I don't think many of us have.

But isn't that precisely what we do to the animals? We kidnap them, test on them, enslave them in laboratories and factory farms. We destroy their habitats and annihilate many of them to the point of extinction.

The only way to rise above becoming the very monsters we fear is to cultivate mercy. The same mercy we hope and pray we'd be shown should the aliens ever show up.