Remember the old advertisements for Sea Monkeys? (Thanks to pop culture, you may now know them as Sea People.) If you’re a part of Generation X or the Baby Boomers, then you probably remember those alluring Sea Monkey ads that were prevalent in comic books throughout the 1960s and 70s. The humorous promotional images, portraying the crowned creatures as the pinnacle of low-maintenance pets, often depicted a tight-knit, sociable family of grinning Sea Monkeys posing in front of their underwater castle. What critter-loving kid could resist? Of course, these diminutive creatures turned out to be nothing more than brine shrimp: no grins, no intelligence, and mostly, no fun (although some disagree).
In one episode (watch it now) of a popular animated show, a group of boys decides to chip in on a batch of Sea People. They receive their packet of eggs in the mail and successfully raise their very own community of Sea People. Thanks to the addition of a peculiar, uncalled-for ingredient to the Sea People habitat, the small creatures quickly evolve into intelligent, miniature humanoids which build underwater cities, statues, and even adopt polarizing religions. One group of Sea People worships Cartman (the chubby instigator who often claims authority), while the other group enshrines Tweek (the jittery, ADD, nine-year old boy who’s addicted to caffeine). Soon thereafter, the two opposing camps of Sea People turn on each other; they go to war, intent on destroying their adversaries on account of their religious differences. Both factions quickly develop nukes. Since they were living within a confined space in Cartman’s bedroom, the Sea People destroyed their aquarium — and thus destroyed themselves.
This humorous South Park scenario is a satirical snapshot of what is presently taking place within the confines of our own spherical, planetary “aquarium.”
A positive attitude is one thing; however, the presumption that all is well — with all the ongoing environmental desecration, with religious and political partisanship, with the spread of nuclear weapons, with our fickle and impatient nature, with business as usual – is a dated and decreasingly relevant view. Our dispassionate allowing of harmful human activities in the name of “progress” – whether with resigned acceptance or sheer obtuseness — is tantamount to ignoring a raging, global pandemic.
Change begins when a single individual takes a small step in the right direction. Any action which encourages the application of basic, universal spiritual principles (above the fray of organized religion, of course) in national or global policy is a meaningful step in the right direction. Despite appearances to the contrary, there is no law barring good will, right action, or ethical choices from the American political process.
Deep down, everyone surely knows it: what we do to the world — and what we do to others — we ultimately do to ourselves. As inhabitants of this amazing planet, we will share its fate.