During the sixties there was a local program called Weird that aired in the late hours of a weekend night. It featured all sorts of science fiction movies, including plenty of features about aliens and unidentified flying objects. I loved watching the black and white B grade movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Day the Earth Stood Still. I grew up in the era of the cold war when wealthy folk were building bomb shelters and every Friday there was an air drill at school. The loud horns would announce the time to get down on the floor underneath our desks in practice for what everyone hoped would never come, an invasion by the Russians. Those movies on Weird suggested that there was an even greater threat from creatures from outside of our solar system.
I’ve always been fascinated by the possibility of intelligent life in a faraway galaxy. It stands to reason that such a civilization might exist somewhere, but only our imaginations tell us what such beings might be like. Of course in the movies they rarely look like us. The sometimes have bigger heads than ours and skin of various tents. Star Trek introduced us to a universe of different beings with various spectacular abilities. As with much of humanity some of the aliens were kind and others were violent. It seemed that even far into the future we may still be fighting wars.
I suppose that humankind has always looked to the heavens with awe. Sometimes when we gaze upon the stars we see incredible things that we cannot explain. The idea of unidentified flying objects has often dominated our thinking in the times after World War II. Recently such ideas made the news in a lengthy report from the Pentagon that seemed to lean toward the possibility of some unexplainable events happening in the skies over our world. In particular, there was a great deal of data in which sightings replicated themselves often enough to create questions about what had actually been in the heavens about us. Decades of reports from navy pilots point to many unexplained events. So I doubt that we humans will give up on the idea that there may be someone or something out there that we are yet to understand.
We are certainly searching for life beyond our planet. Who might be doing the same thing? Is is possible or probable that a more advanced society might have discovered those of us on plant earth? Are there amazing discoveries about physics and astronomy that lie in some distant future? Will this knowledge save our planet, or improve life in ways that we are incapable of imagining?
These are questions that have intrigued humans for centuries, no doubt. I know that they have fascinated me as much as the lead character in Close Encounters of a Third Kind. Still, I doubt that I would have the courage to travel with beings from another kind of world to learn their secrets. My youthful sessions watching alien abductions put a bit too much fear into my system. I’ll leave such journeys to more adventurous souls.
I am fascinated by places like Roswell, New Mexico that is steeped in mysterious stories of unidentified flying objects and rumors of aliens. The tales began in 1947, on a July evening when a thunderstorm seemed different from anything the locals had ever seen. Soon enough there were whispers of flying saucers or at least something definitely strange. A rancher found debris on his land that appeared to be an object from out of this world. When the military denied the story, insisting that the rancher had simply found a weather balloon, rumors of a coverup only increased the intrigue. Since that time a debate over what actually happened at Roswell has raged as eyewitnesses insisted that there was something unearthly about the incident. At the very least, it has made Roswell a tourist destination for people from around the world even as there are more questions than answers about the truth.
I tend not to believe that we have been visited by beings from faraway places in the universe. I am, however, open to the idea that such civilizations exist. I don’t know what it would be proper to call them. Are they people in the same sense that we are. Have they evolved differently depending on the environments in which they live? Is it wrong to call them aliens just because they may be different? Is it possible that there is some civilization that is a mirror image of our own? Are there beings who have learned how to live together more justly and peacefully than we do? Would they have important concepts to teach us, and would we believe them if we shared? These are the kinds of things that fascinate me.
I believe that we have only barely begun to understand and use the full extent of our minds. I think that the future will bring developments that we are still unable to conceive. It would be fun to hang around to see what happens, but I suspect that it will be hundreds of years before such things become reality. Until then I really enjoy the world of science fiction, and wonder how much of it will eventually become nonfiction. Perhaps as with Leonardo da Vinci and Jules Verne many of the writers and dreamers of science fiction have already provided us with a glimpse into to the world of the distant future. I hope that we humans embrace the change. It sounds rather exciting!