Global disasters take all shapes and forms these days: climate change, viral pandemics, economic downturns that ripple across the world, violence and governmental turmoil resulting in waves of refugees and people suddenly with no homes.

The threat of alien attack and human genocide is not really high on our list these days, but such an event, though fictitious (at the moment), can be very instructive. War of the Worlds has lots to say about how we might think, feel, and act when faced with the extraordinary. Not all of the “lessons” noted below really work in a viral pandemic such as the one we are currently experiencing (DO NOT STICK TOGETHER–STAND 6 FEET APART, you crazy people!), but some do.

So: Let the lessons begin.

Lesson 1: Stick together, no matter what.

Lesson 2: Enjoy the simple things: birthday cake, scotch, a nap, a hug. These opportunities will magically appear out of nowhere. Be ready for them. Give presents. Share food. Tell stories. Make love. Do all of the things that make us human. These might be your last chances to live life. Relish them.

Lesson 3: Never stop looking for answers, even when you sometimes say “fuck science,” and remember to share your knowledge with the young ones because, well, it IS a global disaster and disastrous things are bound to happen. And remember: sometimes life is a science experiment.

Lesson 4: Don’t give in to the dark side, the selfish side, the fearful side. Hang onto your best instincts, your empathy, and your desire to see one more day.

Lesson 5: Don’t give up.

The series is now over. I hesitate to share the last screencaps I have made.

The finale for Season 1 was Sunday, April 5. I don’t want to spoil anything for you. The series ending was left quite open and the story is not complete; Season 2 had been announced before the first season began in the USA, but there is no way to know when production might begin.

So, perhaps we will leave it at that. Maybe the final lesson is:

Listen to the experts.

Experts like the astronomer, Catherine, who works feverishly in France, determined to discover the origin of the attack and its nature, fearful that we, in our attempts to find life in the universe, may have brought this attack on ourselves.

And experts like Bill, tenacious neuroscientist and hapless ex-husband, who stands as a reminder that, even when faced with alien robot dogs and the end of the world, there is always a way to understand what is going on around you. You just have to keep trying.

And that’s a pretty good lesson for our times, I would say.

Gabriel Byrne
Paris Match interview for War of the Worlds, November 2019.

Do you have a favorite lesson from War of the Worlds? What did I miss? Tell me in the comments! heart

7 Comments

  1. Bernardita Ossa

    Thanks for your post, dear Stella. Keep on trying and never lose hope is vital these days, hope you are ok and surely after all these bad days sun will raise again.

  2. Thank you for your essay, Stella. These are truly important lessons we have to learn to survive in any global disaster. Sometimes we do not treasure very simple things – just a good weather and simple walk around; work and even lots of work; meeting with friends; safe shopping and a cup of coffee in a small caffe . It’s time now to revise what is really important and valuable. We also may learn now HOW to support each other – some help, nice word, good advice or funny joke, we can share some products we make ourselves. By making all these simple, but valuable things it will be possible to overcome the trouble and make the World better and beautiful ❤

  3. Wir, alle müssen, wieder zu sich und die Natur zurück, von dort kommen wir und dort gehen wir, wie alle, haben uns entfernt von uns.

    A fairly good translation by Stella, with help from Google Translate:

    We all have to get back to ourselves and nature, from which we come and to which we go. We have been removed from ourselves.

  4. Be kind.

  5. Hi Stella, I was very curious to see how the last episode of the first season affected you. And I totally agree with you: no matter how bad the situation is, you must never lose hope! Thanks

    • I’ve messaged you privately, Rosi, because I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who has not seen the ending yet. My main reaction? Bring on Season 2 NOW!! :-)

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