The appointment of Mazlan Othman by the UN as official ambassador to the aliens got me to thinking. We have all speculated about how we Earthlings should react should aliens come to visit. But how should the aliens behave?
Most depictions in popular culture depict an alien visitor or visitors arriving in a big, scary looking space ship, which is a stupid way to go about things if one is making first contact with a volatile, somewhat violent species as ours. Our history and popular culture has taught us to by very wary of strangers suddenly showing up, especially strangers who certainly have the power and might have the disposition to do us harm. This results in the scenario as depicted in the 1950s version of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in which Michael Rennie’s flying saucer is surrounded by the Army and someone with a itchy trigger finger shoots Michael Rennie.
For that matter it is a stupid way to arrive if one is out to conquer or destroy our planet. In “Independence Day” the aliens deployed their fleet above our cities and-waited. This allowed the various governments of our planet to prepare, though President Bill Pullman dithered and almost lost the day before coming back with the help of Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum.
So the following is considered a letter of advice for how to do first contact with the Earthlings. I presume that real aliens will have been studying us for decades and will already know this. But this may be instructive to my fellow Earthlings as to how aliens are likely to behave.
The first thing the aliens should do is to not land immediately or even enter the Earth’s atmosphere. The alien star ship should stand off close enough to the Earth to be detected but far enough so as not to be perceived as a threat.
Then the aliens should broadcast messages of peace and welcome in all human languages, starting with English, then Mandarin, and so on. Offer to meet with the most powerful person on Earth at a remote location and discuss first contact matters, whether it is the offer to join the Galactic Federation or a bid to unload that cargo of dilithium crystals they picked up on the last planet they visited.
Identifying the most powerful person on Earth may be tricky. Currently, if power is measured by control of military force and economic control, that person currently is Barack Obama, the elected leader of the nation state known as the United States. If power is defined by political influence and media notoriety, that person currently is Sarah Palin, the former elected Governor of the American state known as Alaska. If power means media influence that person is Rush Limbaugh, a political and social commentator who regularly speaks on an audio only broadcast. If power means artistic and cultural notoriety, that person calls herself Lady Gaga, a musician and performance artist. However next week it may be someone else. If power is economic acumen, that person could be Bill Gates or Donald Trump or Warren Buffet.
Whomever the aliens decide is the most powerful person on Earth, they should meet him/her at a remote location, but monitored live by Earth media, to discuss what comes next. This could consist of a world tour by various alien diplomats, along with reciprocal visits by human diplomats and scholars to the Galactic Empire, the opening of a market for those dilithium crystals, or tips to where the best parties are in New York, Paris, and Bangkok.
And under no circumstances should the alien meet with that person the body known as the UN has designated. The UN is at best an irritant and at worse a blot on the soil of Earth. It certainly has no power to enforce any agreement the aliens might make with it.
The aliens should not try that trick that was described in “To Serve Man.” We do not taste good, even with barbeque sauce, and have diseases that can be unpleasant indeed.
And, if the aliens want to conquer or destroy us, I have no advice except to prepare for the fight of your lives. We may go down, but we will not go down easy. And we may yet prove to be the grave of the Galactic Empire.
Source: UN Appoints Mazlan Othman, Malaysian Astrophysicist, to Be Alien First Contact Coordinator, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, September 26th, 2010