As this is being written, unknown lights have appeared over Lake Erie in full view of the Cleveland shoreline nine nights in a row. So far, queries to NASA, the US Air Force and the FAA by local media have been answered with the response, 'we don't know.'
Whether or not these lights will eventually be explained in a conventional manner I don't know, but if they aren't then they represent a material change in the encounter experience. Already, this is the longest and most public such appearance ever recorded.
Of course, they could stop some night and nothing further may happen. But what if something further DOES happen? What would contact mean?
First, it is likely to be both logical and asymmetrical--that is to say, perfectly sensible but also very, very strange. There will be all sorts of people seeking to claim authority, and to tell us that they know the motives of the visitors and understand what is happening.
I spent a lot of years with them in my life, and I can assure you that nobody even knows what they are, let alone what their motives might be.
Simple people will see them as either all good or all evil, not understanding that, whatever they are and however they came here, they are likely to represent a complex development of some kind, and will not be at all simple. One thing about the experience that I can predict with some certainty is that it will be the most complex event in history.
It will resonate across all aspects of human culture, from science to the intellectual community, to religion, and in the mind and imagination of every human being on earth.
Based on what we have seen so far, it is likely to unfold slowly. Something will happen to make it impossible to deny the presence of the visitors. This will not explain them. It will not reveal what secrets various governments may have. It will simply open up a new level of involvement in the issue. Armed with this new certainty, however it may emerge, the human community will then be given a chance to absorb and digest it.
If this change takes place, it means that the initial approach phase is ended. During this phase, the visitors used a process of question to change the brains of people who entertained the question of what they were without closing it. These people have been strengthened intellectually in ways that will make them useful nodes for exploring further interaction with our culture, and it is conceivable that they may be used as points of contact.
The US government's great secret is that it started a shooting war with the visitors in the late forties, causing them to evaluate us as a form of creature not yet capable of being addressed in a meaningful manner, and in much the same way that the Indian Government has protected the Jawara people of the Andaman Islands, isolated and protected earth from outside intrusion, then began a process of acclimatization and analysis directed toward getting us used to the presence while at the same time engaging in operations designed to further understanding of us.
Some of this has been done in very much the way we might do it. The sixty years of theater in the sky has certainly gotten people used to an unknown presence, and caused many a human mind to wrestle with questions about what it may be.
However, the close encounter experience has been much more difficult to understand, as it involves encounter not only with a culture that is profoundly different from our own, but with a science that works in ways that are very unfamiliar and can seem threatening.
Not only that, it is probably that contact with us is not the only motive our visitors have for even being present here. What else they might be doing it is difficult even to speculate. For example, in 1909 the mining of uranium would not have been considered of any significance. It could be that they are engaged in mining operations that we don't understand, or other types of exploitation of the planet, and, for that matter, of us.
At the same time, it isn't reasonable to take anecdotal evidence at face value. We actually have no idea what they are doing here, only that they are here.
It has not seemed to me that our own government has much control over their activities. I think that they withdraw when they observe a threat response from us, in the same way that anthropologists withdraw when primitive tribesmen begin to shake their spears, or a rhino under study makes a threat display.
To prevent the embarrassment that will come from contact, after so many years of denial of the obvious, it seems that the government still continues to mount threats, although there is not much evidence that 'shoot down' orders such as that transmitted to Milton Torres over Surrey in 1956 are still being given.
There should be no embarrassment on the part of the government, nor chagrin on the part of scientists and intellectuals who have been so disdainful of the possibility that the visitors may be here.
Their responses have not be the most intellectually and culturally robust, certainly, but neither have they been inappropriate, given the people available to make the decisions and the state of human cultural development at the time they were made.
In the late forties, the generals advising President Truman had just concluded the greatest war that had ever been known, and were grappling with an aggressive Soviet Union having just acquired atomic bombs. They cannot be faulted for initially fearing that they were dealing with some sort of Soviet aircraft, and acting accordingly.
Unfortunately, this initial hostility meant that the situation has proceeded much more slowly than we might have hoped.
A fair question, now, is how might we react, on an official level, if the presence of the visitors can no longer be denied.
Our first step should be for our scientific community to take a new and innovative look at the evidence that is already available and being ignored. Wide vision cameras can easily record the coming and going of the visitors in our skies, and statistical models of their activities developed. Serious study of people claiming contact can be undertaken, both physically and mentally. It is possible, for example, to determine by observing brain function whether memories such people believe to be real are more likely to be recollections of real events, or only of things that the witness believes happened. It is also likely that comprehensive physical testing of enough witnesses is going to reveal consistent effects among those who have had contact. From that, a narrative of the experience can be constructed and motives inferred.
In addition, organized attempts at communication, under such circumstances, would have a reasonable possibility of obtaining a response, and in this way a useful body of interaction history can be developed, starting from a base perhaps as simple as the flashing of lights at one another, and building from there.
What secret contacts the government may or may not have had, and the records of these contacts don't much matter and, in any case, probably won't be that useful. For example, speculations by military intelligence officials or even attempts to interpret the meaning of things said by visitors in open and seemingly ordinary conversation will probably be of limited use, or even counterproductive.
This is because, unless there is an ability to know how the correspondent constructs meaning, there is also no way to know what significance language may have to him, and therefore no way to know what any speech he may have uttered actually meant to him.
Communication with our visitors is going to be far more difficult, for example, than communication with dolphins. We can teach dolphins to play with balls and do all sorts of clever tricks on our own terms, but despite years of study, we cannot understand a word of their language. We don't even know if it is a language, in the sense that we use the word.
The visitors are far more intelligent than dolphins, and much, much stranger, and the difficulties of communication are going to be a great challenge.
But not impossible, not if we start at the beginning and build by careful steps, starting with the knowledge that is readily available and working from there into deeper and deeper understanding, first, of what they are doing to us, and then later, of how they see themselves.
When an event like this happens, I am always hopeful that it means a change, because the knowledge the visitors have offer us is a treasure beyond compare. Even if we never get close enough to them to really interact with them, proper gathering and processing of the information that is already available for the taking is possible, it is cheap, and it could well be that extraordinary gains in human knowledge are possible with minimum effort, if we do no more than organize and properly process the evidence that is already available.
It's a start, though, and a real one. Hopefully, the question of whether or not they are here will soon be closed. If so, we can then begin what will truly be the greatest of all human journeys.
NOTE: This Journal entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.