Yesterday, Denmark released its UFO files, stating that, while most were explained, a number of them most certainly were not. Today the German government stated that a UFO that crossed the southern part of that country last week was a definite unknown. Last week, British Ministry of Defense UFO specialist Nick Pope said that the Royal Air Force had fired on UFOs, and, late last year, Ministry of Defense records showed that a US Air Force pilot had been ordered to fire on a UFO over that country in 1957, but had not released his rockets because the object (the size of an aircraft carrier) disappeared just as he was about to pull his trigger.

And this is hardly even the tip of the disclosure iceberg. The only thing that remains is some kind of official announcement from the US government, admitting that there are unknowns in our skies. The reason that I specify the US government in particular is that it is really the only one that hasn’t at least tacitly acknowledged the existence of this phenomenon.

There is no reason, at this point, for the government to do more than two things: first, to acknowledge that government entities such as NASA and the US Air Force have at times tracked objects that could not be explained; second, to direct the National Science Foundation to change its policy and encourage research into the phenomenon, rather than discourage it.

Over the years, there has built up in the public sector a vast folklore about UFOs and close encounters, to which I have contributed with books like Communion, exploring my own experiences. However, I have never drawn any conclusions about those experiences, for the simple reason that there is no scientific basis, as yet, for such conclusions.

Maybe the alien abduction phenomenon is real. My own vivid personal experiences tell me that it is. But I do not have proof and, as yet, we don’t even know what these objects flying around in our skies are.

What is lacking is not disclosure of things like official communications with alien beings. If my own experiences are in any way representative, such communications are hardly going to be helpful at this point, and they may even be misleading, perhaps quite seriously so.

The process of contact–and that is what is unfolding here, and has been for at least sixty years–is by far the most complex challenge that the human mind has ever faced. For this reason, as this unknown becomes an acknowledged public reality, we must start at the beginning, rather than jumping to conclusions about what is happening.

The beginning is this. First, our established scientific community must begin a public study the aerial aspects of the phenomenon by developing means of reliably detecting the presence of genuine unknowns, tracking their movements, and developing good statistics about their numbers, their patterns of movement, and the locations they visit. Second, the close encounter witness phenomenon must be addressed on two levels. First, witnesses, like me, who have verified unknown objects in their bodies, should be thoroughly profiled physically and psychologically. Their narratives should be tested for accuracy using the most reliable means we possess.

From this, a number of determinations can be made. First, is there something here more than folklore? Specifically, are there physical traces in these individuals that cannot be explained? If so, then how accurate are their narratives? (This can be determined using PET scanning techniques that can separate memories of physical experiences from imagined ones, an essential step when dealing with a phenomenon that impacts the mind on so many different levels, many of which are not clearly understood.)

So, if we proceed calmly and carefully, we can create a rational intersection between the folklore and the reality, insofar as we are able to discern what it may be.

Understand, I am not rejecting that folklore. My own body of work is integral to it, and I believe that my descriptions of what I have experienced are quite accurate. This means, of course, that Carl Sagan was right when he said that contact would be so strange that it would be almost beyond strangeness.

This is why, in evaluating the phenomenon, we must take small, careful steps, accept that it will take years of rigorous and open-minded study and–above all–start with the truth: we have no idea, right now, what is really going on.

There has never been a more opportune time to begin this journey, which will be the most remarkable and valuable one ever taken by the human species. Right now, as our environment and our economy both collapse around our ears, we urgently need major innovation to occur. If that does not happen, this species faces a truly terrible future, being trapped on a dying planet in numbers too large to do anything but make its death throes worse.

I think that the UFO phenomenon is evidence that it is possible, in some way, for us to express ourselves into the universe. Whether that means gaining an ability to travel to other planets, or something very much stranger, I do not know. Whether we ever develop a coherent and public relationship with whoever is here or not really doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that our scientific institutions, our religious leaders, our philosophers–the whole establishment of the human intellect–begin taking steps toward understanding on our own terms. We must gather and utilize knowledge using the resources available right now, which are primarily observation of craft and analysis of contact experience. The knowledge that we can gain from this sort of rigorous, careful and open-minded engagement with the phenomenon will be quite sufficient, I feel sure, to provide us with important new approaches, both socially and technologically, that will be key not only to our survival, but to a future for mankind that is, at present, beyond our most hopeful dreams.

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