When in his final tweet as a presidential adviser, John Podesta said that he was disappointed that he had been unable to achieve release of still secret UFO files in 2014, the general media at first assumed that it was a joke. When his past record on the subject became clear and it was realized that he wasn’t joking, most outlets fell silent. The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal were all silent. And yet it’s major news when a man of Podesta’s stature, not to say his access to classified documents, says something like that.
The silence is telling. It comes because the major media has a seventy year long commitment to the idea that there are no aliens here and the whole subject is nonsense. Scientists and intellectuals, in general, take the same position. The general public, on the other hand, is either indifferent or mildly interested. Religious authorities, led by the Catholic Church, seem more able to face this possibility than those of us who are at the forefront of human exploration, as are scientists and intellectuals.
Years ago at the World Affairs Conference at the University of Colorado, I talked with astronaut Rusty Schweikart about this resistance. He said, "I guess I don’t want the way to Mars to be a well-worn path." I thought that, in those few words, he made an enormously important point. The people at the leading edge fear disempowerment. We are trying to find ourselves and our place in the universe, and our scientists and humanists are the ones making the discoveries and gaining the insights.
For example, NASA is just now beginning to think about the possibility of interstellar travel. What happens if that’s trumped and turns out to be a commonplace? Generations of exploration will never happen. And what of the mysteries of culture and being that are addressed in philosophy? What if there is a definitive answer to the fundamental philosophical question, ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’
How can we bear to go from our present place in discovery to the end of it? If we come into contact, that could be something we must face. Unless, of course, contact is not what it seems.
And, in fact, that might very well be the case. Not that aliens may not be involved, but rather that ‘alien’ is the wrong word to describe them. I think that a good beginning would be to discard the ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ assumption and start with a new one: we don’t know what they are, no more than we know what we are.
In this way we can replace what are already tired assumptions about ‘the alien’ with a new direction that is filled with wonder and rich with empowerment. Of course, we won’t do that, at least not initially. The media will rush to the conventional UFO investigators like Stanton Friedman and Leslie Kean, and possibly some officials like John Podesta and even some presently concealed ‘insiders.’ They will tell a story that, while it isn’t untrue, is also not the whole truth. A beginning, certainly, but also exactly the story that is going to leave mankind’s intellectual leading edge in a very difficult space, facing the very sort of disempowerment that could fatally blunt our culture’s exploratory sharpness.
This must not be and it need not be. This is because there is a larger, more important reality behind the conventional UFO stories. It is about the way we and the visitors are interpenetrated. It is about finding them in us and us in them. It is about discovering, for example, why it is that, during the abduction years, so many of us encountered our dead along with them. And how they communicate. (A thought: We might begin by by forgetting things like instructions and channeled material, unless there comes to be objective proof that any of it is real.)
What communication we have actually received seems to have been more by way of demonstration. For example, in narrative after narrative, the visitors have identified themselves with the owl. And sure enough, if you study the owl, you will find a whole lot that seems to reflect the way the visitors act in our lives. It’s not simple, though. Deep, serious study of the species and of the close encounter narratives will reward one with useful insights about how they want us to see them, and, above all, the place they occupy in nature and the cosmos…and the one we occupy.
The truth is that the scientific and intellectual communities stand to gain the most by disclosure, but it is going to be crucial to at once look past the ‘alien vs. human’ assumptions and the UFO material, and into the real depths that will open within us and before us.
This will by no means disempower us. On the contrary, it will open useful opportunities to advance our sciences and deepen our cultures in ways that are just now coming into focus. We are going to be able to approach basic questions of science and philosophy in entirely new ways. Just knowing that we are in some way involved in this previously hidden inner and outer form of communication tempts us much more toward renaissance than decline.
We must see this for what it has the potential to be: a feast of newness and discovery. But we should not forget the owl, dangerous bird of the night.