Budd Hopkins died on August 21 after a years-long struggle with cancer. He will be little remarked outside of the small community of witnesses and researchers who care about the great enigma that is the hidden center of the human experience, but the work he did in this world and on behalf of mankind was of incalculable importance and I hope one day that his achievement will be honored in the manner it deserves.
He did not approve of my approach to this enigma, but we had more in common than he realized. In any case, I forgave him for his various attacks on me as soon as they happened. I responded to them no more than absolutely necessary to protect my good name. I did this because I knew that they arose out of the strength of his conviction that the close encounter experience is an arbitrary intrusion into human life that offers us no benefit. He was a true pioneer, and his effort on behalf of us close-encounter witnesses, or, as he preferred to call us, abductees, was a noble gift both to us and to mankind. He gave his life to us, and he deserves no less from us than the greatest respect we can offer.
With that in mind, I wish to remember him now in the context of what he did for me after I came to him with my own report of my December, 1985 encounter.
The first step I took after the encounter was to go to my doctor. I had been warned earlier in the year by a member of Senator Kennedy’s office staff that there was a rumor that the Administration might play some dirty tricks on me because of my book Warday, which had very much annoyed them. So I thought that it was possible that I had been assaulted. I also worried that, if not an assault, then there might be some organic brain disease involved. The idea of alien abduction initially did not cross my mind.
But due to a book my brother had given me for Christmas, I subsequently became aware that some people believed in alien abductions. Budd was mentioned in the book so I tracked him down and went to visit him at his home in Manhattan. I found a kind, welcoming and dedicated man. At the time, I already knew that I had been raped, but I could not bear to say this. In fact, I was unable to say it to anybody for twenty years, and have only recently begun to be able to talk about it directly at all.
Budd, though, was immediately sensitive to my suffering. He had already spoken to many witnesses and I’m sure he knew without being told the whole story what I was going through. He was open-hearted and, above all, giving of his resources, his mind and his support, not only to me but to all the other witnesses who entered his life.
I can very well remember the thoughts that passed through my mind on the night after I met him. I felt supported. I felt cherished. Suddenly, no matter what had happened to me, there was somebody in my life to whom it mattered, and who had not burst out laughing when I described the bizarre creatures I had seen and the difficult encounter I’d had with them. As is true to this day, I was bearing pain from the rape I had experienced. A very private man, I’d also had semen taken from me, which had completely shattered me both for the physical intrusion and the sense of spiritual violation involved.
Budd listened to all this with kindness and a patient effort at inquiry. It was only later, when I turned toward this enigmatic presence and began attempting communication that he and I parted ways. He told me frankly that he thought that any positive human repsonse might lead to trouble for many more people. He thought that encouraging our visitors was a grave and dangerous mistake. On this point, we disagreed.
He did not just listen to me. He listened to thousands of people. He listened to our stories, he struggled with their meaning, and he tried and tried and tried to gain some sort of final evidence that would make the world sit up and take notice.
Budd was not a professional researcher. He was an artist who chose to invalidate himself with many in that community by his dedication to people and a subject that most intellectuals consider laughable.
However, he pioneered a great advancement in human knowledge. He did this by enabling there to be focus on an experience that, prior to his addressing it, had been so well concealed in our folklore, and so rejected by the educated public, that it had virtually no presence in the culture, much less any social cushion for those impacted by it.
I will remember until the day I die what this marvelous human being did for me when I was absolutely desperate and at my wit’s end. He never attempted to impose his beliefs on me, and after he introduced me to Dr. Donald Klein, I told Dr. Klien that I believed that I had been assaulted by people, not by some sort of aliens. His initial attempt in hypnotizing me was thus forensic. We hoped that some clearer impression of what I certainly thought was a very human crime would emerge.
What emerged was not that. It was what Budd had expected. And, once again, as I descended into a state of literally fantastic terror at the realization of what I was actually facing, he was there with his kindness and his friendship, and a group of similarly afflicted witnesses, offering support.
Budd never asked for a penny. He never asked for much of anything. He gave himself, heart, mind and soul, to the exploration of a great enigma. Honor, thus, the life of a true pioneer and a human being of extraordinary value. Regret the stilling of his voice. Never doubt the importance of the work he did.
Goodbye friend and mentor and sometime enemy. Go with God.
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