11/22/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

A Call For Attention

We love our science fiction, but we titter when we talk about UFOs. What never gets discussed is how valuable it would be if extraterrestrials turned out to be the real deal. If we had our heads on straight, instead of raising our eyebrows at reports of sightings we would be investigating them.

Establishing the reality of an intelligence that's at least comparable to ours would be the biggest news since Copernicus and Galileo. In their time, when it was established that Earth wasn't the center of the solar system, humanity was freed from a worldview in which our planet dominated the known universe. In that humbling new reality our social order no longer could hold, and, in less than lordly light, kings gave way to democracies.

With problems being global now, it's time for another new take on who we are and what we're doing here. It's imperative to get past the worldview of scientific materialism, which supports an "us or them" mentality in which whoever has the most toys wins and we resort to war to resolve conflicts. In relating to other intelligent life we would be one humanity, and the lid would be off the smallness in which we gun for one another.

It is reasonable to think that we can arrive at this awareness via the crop circle phenomenon. Scientific studies, written up in peer reviewed pieces in science journals, tell us that something beyond our reality is delivering the circles to us. While what makes the glyphs remains a mystery, just knowing something is watching us and signaling us is enough. It's that they are, not who they are that's important.

Finding out we aren't alone would be a huge deal. And, if that were established, there could be more. If they are visiting us, the technology possessed by "the other" would have to be more advanced than ours, and what they would be capable of perhaps could help us solve the environmental problems that threaten our very survival.

Why would our visitors be making crop circles instead of doing things that would be helpful to us? If sending circles is their hello, they could be awaiting an aha from us, where we get it that they exist. Then we would invite them in rather than fighting them off.

People hate being conned, which mitigates against accepting such a mind-blowing reality. What can subsume that concern is an appreciation for the realm of mystery. And, openness to what we don't know would be good for us. It would keep us dreaming, which is a state in which amazing things could find their way into our reality grid.
Here's what Brian Swimme, a mathematical cosmologist specializing in the evolutionary dynamics of the universe, says about that idea:

Albert Einstein once remarked that for the human there is no more powerful feeling than that of "the mysterious." In fact, he was convinced this was the cradle for all works of science, art, and religion.

One might ask: "What is the opposite of a feeling for the mysterious?" It would be the sense that o¬ne is in possession of a system that explains all the phenomena in the universe. For such a person, the universe becomes something we don't need to pay attention to. No real surprises are possible, but only the working out of a logical mechanism through time. When a feeling for the mysterious is lost, o¬ne becomes vulnerable to the various fundamentalisms plaguing our planet, each possessing passionate certainty that it has all the answers while thinking that every other set of beliefs is just superstition.

In moments of stress and breakdown, there is a powerful drive in us to acquire answers and explanations. Certainly, in our own time, when we are dismantling ecosystems around the planet and deconstructing the stable climate upon which our civilization is based, we feel a deep need to know what is real and what is good and how to proceed. This need can be so great that we are liable to latch onto a simplistic pseudo-explanation to quell the feelings of fear and doom surfacing in us.

The existence of crop circles eases us out of some of the prior certainties we might have had. We find ourselves considering new ideas about the nature of our universe. We begin to imagine that things might be different than we thought. We might begin to release ourselves from some of the tired explanations imprinted in our minds by the media. But, most important of all, we might begin to feel stunned by the simple fact that here we are in the midst of this overwhelming mystery, the universe.