From Heidi in Texas
If you’ve never seen the episode of The Twilight Zone entitled “To Serve Man” which was based on the short story of the same name by Damon Knight, please allow me to recommend it to you. It’s one of the greatest episodes in the history of the series and was one of the only episodes in which the fourth wall was broken down and an actor spoke directly to the viewing audience. Besides this, though, the story is cleverly constructed and is just twisted enough to walk that fine line between being disturbing and entertaining.
Here’s the gist of what happens: (1) Aliens come to Earth (2) The aliens are really swell guys and they say that their whole purpose in visiting earth is “to serve man.” (3) The aliens even bring a really neat book on how to serve man, but it’s written in an alien language and no one can translate it. (4) People start moving to the alien planet by the truckload (or spaceship load) in order to become the gods they think they will be treated like when they arrive (5) As all of this is happening, the book finally gets translated, and lo and behold…. It’s a cookbook! Ahhhhhhhhhhh! “To Serve Man.” Get it?
Zing! What a twist!
As cheesy as all of this sounds, the episode delivers a fairly overt admonition for us to keep our pride in check and to use our brains instead of stroking our own egos. Also, at the end of the episode when the actor breaks down the 4th wall, he says, “We’re all of us on the menu… All of us.” The message in this statement is clear: Regardless of how advanced or how intellectual we may become, we’re still a part of the food chain, and when push comes to shove, we may very well be at the mercy of creatures that are more powerful than we are.
Am I a misanthrope who hopes that Mother Nature and her army of animals will repay us for the evil crimes that we have committed against her? Certainly not. But I also don’t think we should become too cocky. Take the illustration above, for example. While the exact circumstances are a bit unclear, one thing that we know definitively know is that a complete role reversal has taken place, and man is now being served in much different way than he is used to.
In the end the choice is yours: Serve others… or be served, yourself.