Ever wondered what to do when E.T. phones and asks awkward questions?
Ever de-constructed the motives of a visiting UFO that is thousands of light years from home?
To understand how Aliens sees us, we first have to understand our own history of exploration, contact and diplomacy, between Old World civilisations and the New World tribes. Earth history is littered with cruel jokes on unwitting peoples, where the collision of East meets West ended with one party screwed over, or just wiped out of existence.
Why should Earth’s destiny among other races of the universe be any different?
Fortunately we have history to advise us on the implications of mixing with advanced alien cultures, yet what if Aliens of questionable intent rocked up into Earth’s lower orbit in fancy Star Cruisers and rather than answer the calls from world leaders, communicated only through our social networks?
Technology has shifted the means by which alien contact and diplomacy will integrate with our digital world. The responsibility for contact has moved from military elites and those in the know, to the wider, connected public.
We have to be prepared to face our past in order to face the future: Soon, now, or a day in the far future, we will make real alien contact and our diplomacy will either have us subjugated and naively enslaved, or equipped with knowledge and technology that enables us to explore the stars.
We are responsible for our past and the future – alien contact and diplomacy is in our hands and our descendants’ hands, so that one day they’ll explore new worlds, and know how to drive a bargain, make a deal and survive, when they get there.
This is a work of comical contemplation, a bit like the medieval court jester joking before the stern faced King, juggling fact and fiction, craftily chortling and scoffing at the most fantastical and the plainly horrible: Good news (plentiful harvests), bad news (the plague’s death rate of the peasants), or plainly how things are (the taxes are too punishing, and there’s barbarians amassing at the borders). Reality, including cold reality, is best digested with warm laughter.
I have made little attempt to note historical sources, some sources are best blurred, considering the sometimes chaotic subject matter: Where and who are these Aliens, and what the hell are we meant to talk to ET about? Footnotes from the past make little difference to a fantastic event in the future that we are totally unprepared for, or possibly, unwittingly, being primed for.
Alien Contact and the logical consequence of Diplomacy will happen, or as some conspiracy theorists tout it has happened, yet only when it’s out there in the public domain will it bite our soft little planet so hard and so deep we’ll need to be psychologically prepared. The trauma of alien contact needs to be remedied with something unique to all humans that crosses borders and unites the messiest of foes: A sense of humour.
Alien Contact and eventual Diplomacy will be like a new dawn, but will it be like after a bad one-night stand, or meeting the love of your life?
Earth history is no stranger
to the meeting of two cultures where, like the aftermath of a bad one night
stand or a doomed marriage, and as the English would say (only because the
Alien Contact and Diplomacy is not intended to stretch the imagination with UFO conspiracies (or lack of them), nor to project utopian ideas of how good it will be when we’re with them (shacked up drinking exotic cocktails with cool alien bounty-hunters etc). We plainly need to understand that when the moment arrives, we need to be prepared. And to be honest, it is an awkward subject. We don’t want to be muted by our Governments’ nature of denial, nor do we need to be brainwashed by our science fiction writers. We just need to be diplomatic with what will be facing us, because the end game will have amazing and unintended consequences.
At the moment, however, we aren’t really prepared. There is a sense that we are, but in some ways it’s like we’re just waiting for our first date.
To be more precise, we're waiting for that first kiss: From sun gods to medieval dragons to UFOs and little green men, we earthlings are waiting for the messiah, the saviour, or the big Kahuna, to wander in out of the wastelands to spread goodness over our little enclave. Amen. End of story. Pass the wine and let’s party. We have contact, now for the orgy.
It is hardwired into our psyche that one day something grand and astonishing will arrive. On an everyday level we have the concept of heaven where everything; life, love and wine, is an abundance and waiting for you, legs open. All you have to do is be good, or try to be good, or just repent when it fits into your busy sinning schedule. Then there is the nagging sense that one day, something big, scary, flooding or fiery, plainly apocalyptic, will roll over us and the choice will be standing on your feet fighting, or on your knees begging. Just recently the world slipped into a financial meltdown, yet in reality it just wasn’t apocalyptic enough. There has to be more to our existence, and there will be.
When we make meaningful contact with an alien race, one of two things (or both, in quick succession!) can happen:
They’ll show us how to unlock energy and maybe even live forever through a sharing of their technology. We can hug each other, share cooking recipes, intermarry all the taboos, tear down all the barbed wire borders around the world, and explore space without the slightest guilt that our planet is under threat. Or...
They’ll exterminate us because we look funny, smell weird, and say something inappropriate to their boss. All this is irrevocable. We’ll end up an unfinished footnote on a forgotten list of lost civilisations of the universe.
In former times, ancient and
imaginative lands such as
Thanks to our ancestors, including those enduring the Middle Ages, their illustrating in many different lands the different characteristics of dragons, presents us with enough evidence to believe that dragons existed, yet only if you’re five years old and younger. What were our ancestors thinking? Fast forward a thousand years. The dragons have retired, are lying dormant, or extinct, but we have UFO sightings, and we certainly have an avalanche of media purporting that UFOs exist, both here and in ‘outer space’. In a thousand years will scholars snicker, “What were 21st century people thinking! UFOs!”
However, while UFO sightings seem to rise as a result of convincing science fiction media (think of the impact of 1950s sci-fi and the 1990s ‘X Files’ series), there is some evidence that UFOs are identifiable: Aliens are actually popping down for earth. Then comes the inevitable conclusion that someone made them, sent them here, and therefore has some vague plan. Why does there have to be a plan, any more than the single mindedness of many of our own early explorers. So, what is the plan? Who are these things? What can we do? What will we really do and say? Is there some alien middle class that is taxed to pay for these explorations to earth? What’s their agenda?
Well, their plan, if interpreted with a level head, can't be that hard to decode, and what we do follows on from that, so who or what these things are on about, one day we'll find out. The most important thing is that mentally, us hick earthlings have to be prepared for our big date with intergalactic destiny. We have to be standing tall and firm, bright and cheery, ready to shake hands with a slimy green thing from across the universe or dodge a fireball hurled from a dragon looking thing.
In short, how can we be prepared, when we have no idea on intergalactic diplomacy? Thanks to our own history, we have an abundance of episodes which can shed some much needed star light on the errors of decisions that have shaped our history. And this isn't just about us – it's equally about them. Some may argue it's not really equally, because face it earthlings, their intelligence will give them an edge, but they are playing on our turf. In time, when we rocket out of our solar system and befriend the multitude of species out there, our concept of exopolitical diplomacy will have moved on, but for now, we have to have some basic parameters to attend to.
Many things never happen, or they never happen ever again, or the same way as before. Dragons haven't been seen in a long time but it doesn't stop us from seeing them on the movie screens or in our minds' eyes thanks to vivid story telling. Some scientists, un-imaginative drones, or people who genuinely have better things to think about, prefer to assume earth is alone, hurtling through the cold depths of space with little purpose other than to look pretty from the moon. In many ways it’s easier to be alone, to concentrate on running our own state of affairs, and splendid isolation is not worth spoiling. So be it.
Yet for many of us is the lingering feeling that we are not alone, and even if we pass away without having ourselves proved even a tenth right, we still know that mathematically or spiritually it doesn't make sense that we are (or were) so alone.
To believe that we are alone is admittedly a bit of a great lonely leap – what a curse to be so alone! However, there is little proof to believe otherwise. Science fiction and questionable UFO sightings keep the fire alive, yet they can't truly be believed. At some point you have to shrug off the sceptics and the bogus sightings and decide that we're not alone. From then, a whole new train of thoughts come hurtling from out there down to us: A sense of galactic responsibility.
Note: This book may explain why we may have been 'left alone' and therefore, tragically but not irreversibly, just 'left behind'.
How does anyone really know if we are alone in the universe? Well, they don't. But the debate rages a bit like the flat world concept: It just must be flat because, 'well, everything around me is very flat'. And naturally at the edge of all flat world concepts (or maybe conspiracies) is the great ‘falling off the flat world fear’. Yes, you sail your ship to the end of the world and simply fall off, you come crashing down and land among all the other ships (and maybe dragons) that made the same simple mistake: Assuming the world was round. If we are alone in the universe then the same is true: You steer your super Star Cruiser in one direction and soon or later you'll fall out of the universe, probably onto a flat world, without meeting anyone interesting on the way.
Back to earth, back to reality: The boffins (scientists) are discovering exoplanets: planets outside our solar system. Space is not a void (the great nothing around the flat world map) and is populated with stars, planets and a host of things we know a little about but will one day study in great detail. The feeling that we are alone is probably more a fear than an acute observation, but to the credit of those who can work up the chutzpah and wail, “We are alone – get used to it” is the fact that as far as we know, no alien species has opened a consulate or trading post on our planet. Sadly, for the moment, apart from conjecture that we are not alone, we have to rely on some solid form of evidence.
There are UFO sightings from credible people; and while it's understandable that it’s not in their best interest on an intellectual and career level to admit seeing something odd in the skies, sometimes they do step forward and point over yonder and say, “Even though I am sane and trained to fly expensive machinery or operate advanced aerial surveillance technology, over that way, there are UFOs,” which can be as detrimental to one's employment possibilities as saying, “At 279°, 10,500 feet, are a fleet of dragons, flying figure eight patterns at approximately 500 miles an hour, apparently flirting with some prettier dragons who maintain a steady course south at 290°, 10,000 feet.”
Interesting UFO sightings, maybe because they spark the imagination and in aggregate form the sum of all fears; monsters and ghosts and dragons, do present enough evidence that aliens are out there and indeed visiting us. However, this is no need to bang the drum that they're here: If they are, we don't see any ‘public’ sign of them, so they're as good as not here anyway. Thanks for nothing.
In order to make speed and to enjoy this dialogue, accept the assumption that they exist. You don't have to believe they walk amongst us, control our lives, run our economy or ride around in spinning upturned dinner plates, you just have to accept that:
They're out there, and then,
They're riding around in upturned dinner plates, may have an influence on our economy, and can one day influence our lives.
For the discerning exploratory alien, when you're so brainy, so knowing, and obviously advanced enough to have mastered the pillars of intergalactic frivolity and stability; endless energy, securing your home planet from destruction, and the technological ability to surf the stars, how are you then to fill your time? In all probability the universe will end, so for any advanced culture sprawled and yawning across the vastly empty universe, no matter how intelligent or bored with us they are, they still need some excitement and purpose: Alien races will come here out of a sense of curiosity because what else are they to do? Life is about exploration and with Earth's abundance of species, even a little venture now and then would yield something curious and therefore marginally valuable to an alien.
The next and more dramatic thoughts are, if they come here out of curiosity, what is the nature of their curiosity? What eggs them on? Where does it lead to?
The answer to this lies on many levels, and these answers, as well as the sometimes bizarre questions that get us there, must be appreciated because one day they’ll help us understand those who have travelled a long, long way, to meet us.
Before embarking on diplomatic relations with aliens they might have to make the first step. Flying around in spinning hub cubs, giant silver cigars and other assorted 1950s sci-fi paraphernalia, and making little sojourns to biologically interrogate livestock, shine little three-pronged lasers up a poor soul's quivering rump, collecting a few plant specimens and then buzzing a commercial jet airliner for a laugh, is not actually 'communicating' anything special to us. If we believe the victims of such occasions, it is indeed good for a laugh and in total can be passed off as just another questionable contact in a series of non-events. A real event would be an alien Star Cruiser rocking up into earth orbit and showering us with trinkets: each trinket would have some power over us, emboldening us with a wondrous technology or ability.
Suspected, documented and celebrated alien activity to date is interrogative, not a meeting of cultures, and can be passed off, or is it a sign of something on the horizon?
The duckbilled platypus is a
unique Australian, yet when early explorers brought it back to
Specimens spark the imagination, and even though E.T. probably has a brain at least a thousand times more efficient than yours and mine together, he/she or it must still have a sense of curiosity. The museums of the world are packet with jars of things, many brought back by explorers who bravely wandered into unknown worlds, hoping to make a great discovery and probably ending up as a footnote in history and with a weird looking bird named after them. An alien race, and alien individuals too, will have the same sense of adventure. Again we have to wonder, what is life all about, what can their life be all about? Inside all of us is a collector or some sorts. Is something out there collecting from us?
To any alien drone posited in the solar system for eavesdropping and weather reporting, the burst of radar activity during World War Two may have caused it to prop one eye open and tick a box: Wow, those pesky humans have discovered radar. Yawn. Add this to the list of human discoveries: Fire, the missionary position, the wheel, beer, stone tools, red wine, bronze spears, white wine, iron armour, the croissant, steam power, air power and then flower power.
You have to assume for a second that they are listening to us, and it's not that hard. Let's say you're an alien, you reached an adequate form of intelligence a billion years ago, and you like to know what goes on. You litter interesting planetary systems with self-replicating and self-repairing devices to listen in. Somewhere on your dashboard a little light flickers and a drone mumbles, “Those carbon-based bipeds are sending junk into space.”
Naturally enough you'd listen
in and record everything. Thanks to
, you'd have access
to tonnes of earth media and phone conversations that it'd take an alien brain
the size of the Titanic to interpret. And interpret and correlate is what an
eavesdropping drone must do, because it must report back. But what kind of
specimen has it found? How much daytime TV soap opera from across all earth's
cultures (Latino, American, British, and
Or it may just tick another box. Humanity has crawled like an air-head, shaggy-haired, drunken art student into the information age. As a specimen we are probably fun to poke yet an artefact; in aggregate a piece of art. What we tell them about us (including our shame) can only be positive: Hit and miss as we do, we like to communicate, and we do.
From the flesh to the email spam, from the genes of starfish to all six episodes of Star Wars , you have to assume that aliens have at least some of it bottled in glass jars or whizzing around in their memory banks.
What they make of it all, who knows, but one thing is certain, apart from maybe abducting the unfortunate (or just imaginative) and maybe eavesdropping (or perhaps wincing and turning the other way) what they have learnt from us is not enough to stage a public introduction. To date, there are no Alien Star Cruisers beaming us better television programs, programming a more efficient system for the organisation of the mess of the internet, or trying to preach their Gods to us. To sooth our deflated sense of intergalactic worth, the reality is that we simply haven't ticked enough boxes, and the last one is probably this: Humans have discovered real space travel.
Although we may not be on any alien cultures’ diplomatic priority list, if you believe that at least once in the last 100,000 thousand years an alien spacecraft has flown by, and perhaps made a follow-up visit, then you can be sure that we mean something to them. What that is, how it works out for us, will bring about change and throw a giant mirror into our faces: What do we mean to them, what do they mean to us, and what are we really on about?
Simon Drake.com contains information about my science fiction and non-fiction, (including where to paperbacks and ebooks), plus some short fiction.