Trying to answer the most pondered question in the universe says much more about us than about them.
There are few thoughts more self-centered, egotistical and altogether ignorant than those of someone who denies the existence of extraterrestrial life. In a universe so infinitely vast, the statistical probability that there exists life elsewhere is unquestionable; the only question is whether the human race is ready to accept our meager significance in such a boundless universe.
We humans seem to be preoccupied with more pressing matters, ranging from the name of the new Kardashian baby to the release date of the next season of “Riverdale.” The world continually obsesses over an abundance of minute occurrences, some admittedly more trivial than others. For instance, a campaign for social activism or climate change awareness is obviously respectable, but its significance still pales in comparison to the broader question that haunts us from womb to tomb: are we alone?
We only really ever flirt with the idea of aliens when it’s for mindless entertainment — a fright at the movies or a smile at the blossoming friendship of a young boy and his cute extraterrestrial discovery. We scoff at the prospect of aliens when it’s removed from escapist fanfare and introduced into ordinary life, hence the amusing stereotype of the conspiracy-crazed “tin foil hat” psycho. Maybe these supposed lunatics have more to offer than a quick laugh, though; maybe they’re onto something.
From my perspective, the crazy guy who cries “government cover-up” at every possible UFO sighting and even buys alien communicators (yes, they exist) in case of an emergency is half-right. He’s right to believe in something greater than he sees on news stations or the Internet, that there exist monumental things to be found in the stars beyond politics and television and humanity.
He’s wrong, however, to focus on the idea of extraterrestrial life as a threat to his human way of life. In reality, while the odds of life elsewhere are remarkably high, the odds of encountering an alien species anytime soon is equally low. The point, then, is not to ready your bunker for a doomsday invasion, but to adjust your life according to the realization that you are but a blip, a one-night stand in the infinite affairs of the universe.
It’s a humbling thought that might bring you existential worry, but it comes with good news: your worries mean nothing. Enjoy your life! Your existence might be meaningless to the universe, but that only means you have no obligation to anything but yourself to make it count.
The time may come when you have to put your new outlook on life to the test. On Nov. 12, Harvard researchers concluded that an elongated object found circling the Earth in 2017 might be an alien probe. I’m not saying the Earth is 100 percent going to get invaded, but I’m also not saying it won’t (okay, it probably won’t).
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