I am disturbed by the descriptions of our contact with alien races both in "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and in "Contact." I feel somewhat more warmly toward our experience with Exeter in "This Island Earth." He at least was seeking help from Earth's scientists, and hailed from a race not so advanced as to be incomprehensible to humans. The alien census bureau that takes an interest in backwater planets in "Contact" sends blueprints to build a machine for travel, much as Exeter sends blueprints for a communicator, an "Interociter." Benign aliens should try to be as unscary as possible.
Of course I am not actually upset with the antics of the humanly-imagined aliens themselves. They are just bogeyman sketches-- I mean they say much more about our failure of imagination and our inability to grasp universal truths, than they might about any actual aliens out there.
My personal philosophy says that if there are similar suns, elements, dust discs, planets, etc. there will be a similar history of life. One needs to know nothing more than how to read the spectrum from our own galaxy to suppose that life is abundant. But proving something, that is, getting a consensus on the truth to emerge from a crazy-quilt set of beliefs such as exists in humanity-- that's a more difficult matter. We humans like to just make things up on the supposition that anything that can't be dis-proven is just as good as anything that can't be proven.
What bothers me is that we of the earth, as a whole, are behaving badly. We imagine through our books and movies that some greater race will see good qualities in us and steer us in the right direction, show concern, perhaps lead us with a firm hand. But if we have not been contacted, it is easier for me to suppose the reason is that we are not salvageable, that we are a classic suicidal world, probably the norm, but not the one-in-whatever that grows old and wise and prospers.
Actually, Clarence trumps the bunch in satisfying my need for a non-threatening alien. But I am dismayed that such an intervention is needed. We like to pretend we are like George Bailey, but looking around we are still seeing Pottersville
writ large. Isn't it time to suck-it-up and get busy?
I did not intend for this to be an anti-Christmas posting, as I hope this makes clear.
My Christmas wish is that we all pull together to give ourselves the present of a sustainable future.