Cowboys, Aliens and the Human Spirit | The BridgeMaker

Cowboys, Aliens and the Human Spirit

By on Aug 11, 2011


Both now and for always, I intend to hold fast to my belief in the hidden strength of the human spirit. – Andrei Sakharov

The human race needs a common enemy right now.

That’s the message I received after watching Cowboys and Aliens.

Fighting through a month-long heat wave, Mary Beth, Emily and I sought the solace of a cool movie theater last Saturday night. We’re not comic book superhero fans, so Captain America didn’t make the cut. Emily saw the latest Harry Potter movie on its opening day and I wasn’t interested in seeing a group of apes rise and take over the world – although the job we have been doing lately makes the premise more likely every day.

My wife, daughter and I settled on Cowboys and Aliens. We thought the idea of mixing an old-fashioned western with earth-invading space aliens would provide the best distraction from the near 100 degree temperature.

It turns out we were right.

While it was made to be an entertaining popcorn movie, Cowboys and Aliens left behind a more sobering message. Absolution, the Arizona town that received the brunt of the alien attack, was spared no mercy. Buildings were destroyed and people were snatched up and lifted into the alien spacecrafts.

The people left on the ground had a choice – unite or perish in the next attack.

Cowboys united with Indians. Fugitives rode alongside the men who once pursued them. The lines that once separated the good from the bad were erased in the name of the human spirit.

In the human’s final charge against the aliens, the character played by Harrison Ford cried, “Let’s get our people out of there.”

I think he meant not only his people, but all of the people. The people he once mistrusted, even hated, were the same ones he was willing to give his life for – in the name of the human spirit.

The aliens became the common enemy that saved Absolution.

Who are our aliens today?

Are they the increased frequency in natural disasters, the famine in the African Horn or are they the murderous drug cartels?

I think our aliens have already landed and they are snatching our people up.

We are in need of some mercy right now; and absolution, too.

We need to cry, “Let’s get our people out of there,” before it’s too late.

The universe is presenting our common enemy to us in so many ways right now.

Let’s ride together and take back what belongs to us – in the name of the human spirit.

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The BridgeMaker Founder Alex Blackwell is the author of Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender. Join the community to connect, share and inspire: Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

  • Dia, Joy, Sue, David, Joe and John, I apologize for the lack of personal, one-on-one response to your comment. Mary Beth and I just returned from moving our son, Andrew, back to college. Thanks for riding with me, and others, and for sharing your most important gift with the world – you compassion. You are making a difference in the world.

  • I feel Alex that mankind is actually always LOOKING for an enemy on a constant unceaseless basis so they have someone to fight. Even if the world was at perfect peace it seems part of our genetic make-up to find a foe to engage with or accuse some person or race so that we can rise up against them. We never seem to be able to settle and enjoy life. Perhaps the true enemy is within and that the people we really are fighting against, not allowing to be happy..is ourselves!

  • Alex,

    I love these sort of movies because as they are entertaining they can be very inspiring as well. I think a sense of unity and empathy is exactly what is needed in the world today. When I am counseling with adolescents I try to get them thinking in a prosocial manner. So many youth of today are focused on themselves and don’t consider the bigger picture. If we can get our future generation to heed this call of the value of community it will make a world of difference.

  • Hi Alex,
    We have many common enemies…..famine, obesity, lack of respect, lack of accountability and the one’s you mentioned. We can join forces against some of these however for many “enemies” it comes down to one person…..you/me. It’s up to each individual to draw their own line in the sand. Love your work as always.
    be good to yourself
    David