UFOs have been in the news again. Routinely seeing headlines about this phenomenon in mainstream news outlets would have been unthinkable a few short years ago, but now it just shows up as one more feature on our continually expanding haunted hayride into infinite weirdness.
So what's the deal here? Are they military aircraft? Are they a cold war psyop? Are they natural phenomena?
Or are they extraterrestrials?
The preceding questions are intriguing, but we all know that last one is what's generating the most thought and discussion.
For me, though, it's actually kind of the least interesting possibility, and I'll tell you why.
If there are indeed extraterrestrials, and if they have indeed solved the puzzle of interstellar space travel and noticed us and decided to pay us regular visits for their own secret alien reasons, I don't think it would have any actual effect on life on this planet. We're simply not mature enough as a species to ever interact with them.
I mean, look at us. We're gazing up at the stars, wondering if there's intelligent life up there, while rapidly killing off mysterious giant-brained leviathans who live in our own oceans, whose experience of consciousness we know essentially nothing about.
We're gazing up at the stars, wondering if we'll get colonize our desert rock planetary neighbor one day, while destroying our own planet upon which we are perfectly adapted to live. We don't even know if humans are truly separable from their ecosystem any more than a ripple is separable from the pond, and we're already thinking of space colonization as a sensible Plan B for when we destroy our home.
I mean, would you interact with us?
Seriously, would you? Why would you see that as being in your interest? Why would you even see it as being in our interest?
Because here's the thing: a lot of UFO enthusiasts harbor a hope that at some point the aliens are going to intervene and help us. And they just won't. That will not happen. This movie has no ET ex machina ending.
Extraterrestrials would not intervene to help us solve the existential crises which we have created for ourselves for the same reason we created those crises in the first place: we are not mature enough. Do you really believe an alien civilization would gift us with free energy so we stop filling our atmosphere with carbon or whatever? It would be like ten days before we figured out how to turn it into a weapon.
I mean look what happened when we discovered nuclear energy. We came within a hair's breadth from ending the world, not just once, but multiple times. And we've still got those horrible armageddon weapons pointed at each other. What could extraterrestrials possibly give us that we wouldn't use to make things far worse than they already are?
The only way an alien civilization could possibly save us from ourselves would be to forcibly stop us from doing what we've been doing, and does that make sense either? Could an advanced civilization become advanced without developing a deep respect for sovereignty? After all it's a lack of respect for sovereignty that is causing most of our problems on this planet. If we respected national sovereignty military interventionism wouldn't be a thing. If we respected personal sovereignty everything from corporate exploitation to government oppression to rape and murder would stop happening. Respect for sovereignty would be paramount in an advanced civilization.
I think if there are indeed ETs and deep space travel is indeed scientifically possible, they'd see fit to leave us alone and not interfere for the same reason you don't open a bird's egg to try and help it grow. We need to be left on our own to mature.
A very possible answer to the Fermi paradox is that we haven't met the aliens because a civilization far more advanced than our own would have matured emotionally and spiritually beyond the need to sail around the galaxy molesting the natives like a bunch of fifteenth century Europeans. They, unlike us, would not be craning their necks scanning around the universe for more stuff to take.
No, we are on our own for this test. We have the total sovereign freedom to pass the test or fail it. Whether they exist or not, the aliens are not coming to help us.
Our species is like a guy whose personal life is complete chaos, but he keeps trying to find peace by chasing after a bunch of external attainments and accomplishments. Thinking we can flee to space if we trash this world is far, far dumber than planning on buying a new house because you can't be bothered tidying up the one you have, and that's really dumb. We need to stop looking to the stars as a path out of this mess, either by leaving our home or by being rescued by ET, and we must begin taking care of each other and our ecosystem. We need to stop trying to run away from ourselves, turn around, and face our dilemma head-on.
Forget close encounters of the third kind. We need a close encounter with us.
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