Is there life on Mars? Whilst there may well be evidence of bacteria-like microbes on the Red Planet, it’s probably safe to say that we’re unlikely to be visited by H. G. Wellsian Martians any time soon.
But is there life elsewhere in the Universe? Many think there absolutely must be, though we’ve really no idea of its form.
For a minute, let’s just imagine that there’s a planet called Zog, sitting in a solar system a little like our own, populated by Zoganoids who are approximately as advanced as us.
Now it’s pretty likely that some things on Zog went well yesterday, whilst others were not so positive. I’m sure that The Daily Zog – being like our own newspapers – will have generally focused on the latter, publishing all the bad news that’s fit to print.
My point is, you’ve no idea whether this is so, making it rather pointless to worry about events on Zog.
Now this is an extreme example, but closer to home it’s rather easy to become upset about news in the media which really doesn’t need to concern us.
I’m obviously not proposing that we should become dispassionate and self-centred, choosing to ignore famines, wars and repressive regimes, because part of what makes us human is our empathy for others.
But I do think it’s easy to slip into worrying out of all proportion about events over which we really have no influence.
Study a newspaper too closely when your mood is low, and you may well end up feeling worse.
Perhaps becoming overly affected by something going on at the other end of your country is only marginally less destructive than fretting about the state of the Zoggian economy?