Late last year, The Martian showed up in the “Recommended Reading” section of my Kindle app. I read the description and eventually decided I would probably like the book. I had a faint recollection that a movie was made based on the book. I recorded it a while back on my DVR, but I still haven’t watched it.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, even though the main character probably should have been dead by the end of the first chapter with all of the horrible things he went through. There was also quite a bit of science jargon and math that I just skimmed as I read. That part was a little dense.
Okay, so far it may not sound like I actually enjoyed the book, but I did. The book had two really distinct themes that stuck with me and helped keep me turning the pages.
First, was perseverance. The main character is stuck on Mars for crying out loud, but he keeps a positive attitude throughout the story and is able to push through all of the obstacles that the planet (and his own miscalculations) throw at him. Even though it is fiction, words are important. This type of “toughing it out” is what so many people in real life could use a little more of.
The other theme that I noticed throughout The Martian was human kindness. Once people on Earth realized that the main character was still alive, they spared no expense (personal and professional) to get him home safely. Even other countries chipped in to try to get this one single human being back to Earth. The main character sums this up pretty well toward the end of the book.
“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do.”
We saw this same type of human kindness here in the Houston area first-hand after hurricane Harvey hit last year. Part of my neighborhood flooded badly, and so many of the neighbors who didn’t flood pulled their resources together to help those in need. It didn’t matter if they knew each other or not. The school where I work had a food and clothing drive, and the amount of supplies donated far surpassed anything anyone anticipated. Stories like this are innumerable, and yet each one is so important.
And we see this time and time again whenever there is some type of disaster.
Sure there are those who are too selfish to care about others, but we can’t let that dim our hope of the goodness of humankind. Often when people don’t do anything, it’s because they don’t know what to do. In times of crisis, it really doesn’t matter what you do. If someone is in need, anything will help, even just being there.