After revealing to me that he was not born on this planet, but was as human as anyone else on it, Roger was about to tell me why he was here. In his words, what his "work" is.
"Before I tell you what I, and a few others, are doing here, Mark, I need to explain two things about why human beings throughout the universe have intentionally hidden their existence from the life of this planet. There are two reasons. Both have to do with nature of the beings on this planet."
"To explain them, I will have to use some of the language and ideas prevalent on this planet which are totally foreign to the rest of humanity throughout the universe."
"The people of this planet are dominated by paranoia and zenophobia—goundless fear, especially fear of "strangers" and the unknown. It is well known that human beings on this planet frequently fear, and often attack that which they do not understand. If any of us revealed our true identity to the people of this planet, if they understand how advanced our knowledge and technology are, they would almost surely be terrified.
"There is in fact nothing to fear from any human being, with the exception of those on this planet. Your own history is filled with those of greater strength exploiting, looting, even destroying the weaker and more ignorant. It would be impossible for most earth humans to know, or even imagine, that the intellectually and scientifically advanced humans that populate the universe have no interest in exploiting or, "conquering," anyone. Except for those of us who have studied the people of this planet, and two similar planets, such concepts as "exploitation," and, "conquering other people," do not exist in any human vocabulary.
"All human behavior is unpredictable, of course, because human beings must choose their behavior, and nothing can predict what they will choose. On this planet, human beings have chosen what no other human beings in the universe would imagine choosing, killing each other and destroying each other's property and taking pleasure in the brutal rape and tortue of other human beings. None of the non-earth human beings would intentionally risk having his existence known by the dangerous monsters of this planet.
"There is another reason the existence of humanity is hidden from the monsters of this planet. There is no way to predict what will happen, of course. The belief there is, is one of the many wrong ideas that dominates this planet, by the way.
"There is, therefore, some disagreement about the possible future of the life on this planet. Some are convinced it will self-destruct, as it did on at least three other planets. Just because such predictions are impossible, there is also the possibility humans will not destroy themselves and continue to develop their crude technologies, and eventually make their way off this planet, ultimately making contact with other humanity.
"It is unlikely that earth-humans would be a danger or threat to other human beings, especially now that what they are is well understood, but they would certainly be pestiferous."
"Now about my work. There are only a handful of non-earth humans on the planet these days. I personally only know two, but there are at least six others. I doubt if there are more.
"Their only purpose in being here is research. The nature of the planet, and the strange people on it is important to many enterprises. If, as suspected, the human life on this planet becomes extinct, the planet will be a very important resource and a number of investors and business men are already including the earth in future potential business ventures.
"Unlike other planets populated by human beings, even if one were willing to reveal one's non-earth origin, it is not possible to risk business with the humans on this planet. Frankly, the so-called 'political,' nature of the planet with its, 'governments,' is dangerous, corrupt, and unnecessarily complicated, and no rational business man would have anything to do with it.
"My own research is to discover why the humans on this earth have chosen to defy their own nature and the requirements of it. All the evil on this planet is the result of the defiance of human nature itself. It is to discover the "why" of that defiance my research is concerned with.
"What I have discovered so far is that almost everything humans believe on this planet contradicts the facts of reality, including the requirements of their own nature. It's not an inborn fault, it's not a biologocial anomoly, it's not caused by anything, it is simply what every individual chooses. They do not have to choose it. They could choose to be rational, but they universally use their faculty for choosing to choose that which defies that faculty. They use their ability to reason to defy reason. They use their ability to gain knowledge to fill their minds with that which defies all knowledge. The result is a world of people who passionately believe in what is not true, and who allow those irrational passions to determine their behavior.
If there were anything to your planet's absurd psychology, your entire planet would be diagnosed as insane.
Roger excused himself, saying he would be back in a moment. While he was gone, I tried to digest what he had been telling me. A universe of human beings, of people, apparently without any of the vicious and rapacious motives or behavior of the people of earth all declining to have their existense known to the people of earth. It sounded almost like describing the people of earth with the depravity of Christian theolgy, or the human decadence of Hobbes, except that Roger insists it is chosen, not at all part of the nature of people.
If Roger is correct, all the evil on this planet is the result of choice, not weakness, not ignorance, not any kind of circumstance, but simply evil chosen for its own sake. He had, in fact, indicted the entire planet. Did he include me in that indictment? I wondered.
I never got a chance to ask him.
"Well, Mark," he said when he returned, "I know you have a million questions, and I promise to answer all I can, but it's getting late. Would you mind if we put off the questions for tonight?"
What could I say? All I said was, "Of course, Roger."
"I'll call you in a day or two, Mark, and we'll set up a time. It will give you time to think things over. Will that be alright?"
"Of course. I'll be looking forward to your call."
We said goodnight, and I left, quite bewildered and not knowing quite what to think.
Roger did call, and I'll tell you about that next time.