The E.T. Dilemma

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As an avid Star Trek fan, I often imagine what it would be like to find life out in the universe other than our own. Would they be like the Vulcans, willing to help humanity out of its technological infancy? Would they be more like those from Independence Day and only try to conquer or destroy us? Regardless of the outcome, it would have a sobering effect on world religions and politics…or so one would hope. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if we are truly ready for such a possibility.

Recently, in an interview with Space.com, Patrick Stewart shared his thoughts on space exploration.

“My unease about the space program and space exploration is that I believe so strongly that we have issues on our own planet that need so much attention and adjustment and endorsement that I think, ‘What might happen if we were to propel all of those energies—not to say the economics—that go into the space program to making this a world of equal opportunity and equality?’” he said.

In a startling interview, NASA Planetary Science Division director, Jim Green said the space agency is close to “making some announcements” about finding life on Mars, but humans are not ready for it.

Following this, while on the Late Show, Neil deGrasse Tyson gave Stephen Colbert his input on finding extraterrestrial life.

“If we discovered life elsewhere in the universe it would signal a change in the human condition that we cannot foresee or imagine… That’s the boundary we’d be crossing in our quest to convert ignorance into knowledge… I can tell you, given how tribal we’ve all been, especially in recent years, where we are finding reasons to separate ourselves and fight, to find life somewhere else might be the first occasion to unify Earth as a tribe of its own.”

As altruistic as these responses might seem, there’s just one problem: humans can’t figure out how to get along with one another. Our differences divide us. Here we are in the 21st century and we haven’t figured out how to let people love whom they choose. Given this, how would we accept a species of life that is, say, androgynous, for example?

What if we found life that is smaller and less advanced than we? Chances are we would conquer it, and then rape the world it lives on of resources. This has been the cause of so much conflict here, even in recent times. We humans live by the credo of “He with the most toys at the end wins.” And that greed for power drives our everyday existence.

Worse than greed is the idea of religion. The organized religions of Earth would not be able to sit idly by with understanding that these new beings we’ve found might have their own spiritual beliefs. Or worse, NO spiritual beliefs at all. That’s what we do to each other, right? We kill one another over religious teaching. So, it stands to reason that if we found intelligent life elsewhere, likely some of us would try to force it into one Earth religion or another.

But what if we come across an advanced species that is matriarchal, how would we be able to work with them for our own betterment when we still lack gender equality here on Earth? Right now, there is a wage gap here in America. The country that claims to be the best and the strongest and the freest, is still trying to control women’s bodies. Pro-lifers who claim to fight for those that cannot fight for themselves are unwilling to truly help others. They do not want to make school lunches free, nor do they want to give a decent, liveable wage, or guarantee affordable healthcare. Rather, they cut funding to programs that would help the impoverished.

And if E.T. actually landed here? Forget it. That little green or grey guy would end up in some lab being dissected. These are not over the top suppositions; this is who we are.

Right now, humans are killing each other over land and resources, who’s god is the best god, racial differences, individual lifestyle choices, as well as a variety of other reasons. There is no equality anywhere you look. If aliens are monitoring our planet, they likely deem us as too primitive to contact. And heaven help them if we find them on their own turf. Rather than unifying Earth as a tribe of its own, I fear we’d end up fighting even more over who gets to make first contact. Wars would break out over who gets to be the first to learn and use the new technology. Then more wars would happen over safeguarding the secrets of said technology. In essence, we would turn the ray guns on each other.

It’s nice to think that we could pool our resources and economics together to make our world better, but we cannot even agree to fix our own climate. When science is denied as truth, how can we then use that science to explore the final frontier?