There has been much talk lately about other Earth-like planets and extraterrestrial civilizations. It can be fun and interesting to think about the possible, although more plausible, likelihood of there being other habitable planets as well as intelligent life in the cosmos. At the same time we are also prompted to take a look at ourselves, introspectively, as a society to see how we would compare and relate to such an eye-opening reality.
Some obvious points about how we function as a society come to mind, such as violence, technology, and resource management. There are also traits that may not be so obvious, such as cultural norms. We are, after all, still a young Type I civilization on cosmic timescales. Perhaps the obvious along with the not so obvious characteristics are also the reasons why an extraterrestrial civilization might want to stay away, or at least remain cloaked to observe our evolutionary progress with a minimal interventionist policy.
Would you want to visit a warring and unstable civilization such as ours? We may very well be the bumbling reality show of the galaxy. Common dialogue among extraterrestrial vacation planning might be something along the lines of "oh those primitive Earthlings are killing each other again, let's go check out Alpha Centauri instead." Perhaps the same would be said among extraterrestrial scientific researchers. Chances are, however, that a civilization advanced enough to travel the stars also has technology advanced enough to protect themselves and monitor activities at a distance. At the same time, they probably have also figured out how to provide for everyone's needs and live in peace with each other, which seems even more likely after surviving through any self-annihilation periods while evolving into a Type II, III, or IV civilization.
The extraterrestrial scenario still begs the same line of self-actualizing questions that arise when two different cultures meet for the first time. We will eagerly want to see how they live, how they organize, how they manage their resources and society overall. Ultimately we would want to see how similar and how different we are. Such meetings are beneficial for our continual learning and collective evolution.
While an extraterrestrial meeting would catalyze changes in our society, we do not need to wait for that to happen. There are some obvious and not so obvious points where we, as individuals and a global society, could clearly do better right away.
- We claim exclusive ownership of the land and natural resources that we all need to survive and then we force each other to labor to acquire the money in order to use the same resources that we all need to survive instead of sharing the abundance of resources and providing everyone with a base level of support considering we all have the same basic needs.
- We destroy and pollute the resources that we all need to survive instead of striving for cleanliness and purity.
- We allow the suffering of people when we have the technology to give everyone a better life.
- We kill, hurt, and shame each other over contradictory supernatural belief systems that are ancient and outdated instead of learning, adapting, and reasoning with the current knowledge base.
- We care more about inanimate objects, such as brand names, fashion, and jewelry, than we do about the well being of the community, each other, and other forms of life.
- We have dietary habits that promote sickness and disease rather than focusing on optimal nutrition levels that provide maximum energy and health.
- We exploit and neglect the needs of children instead of feeding and protecting them all as a necessary part of our human community.
- We publicly elect governing bodies that continually operate through lies, secrecy, and corruption instead of making all transactions and information publicly transparent and available.
- We admire those that have acquired the most money and material possessions even if by plundering, manipulating, and destroying instead of admiring the achievements of scientific, technological, and peacemaking breakthroughs.
- We compensate athletes, entertainers, and even criminals exponentially more than we do teachers, researchers, and security personnel.
- We hurt each other mentally, emotionally, and physically instead of support each other as a unified humanity.
- We close our minds to possibilities in order to protect our pride or because scientific evidence is not yet able to detect or explain phenomena instead of continually investigating further.
- We limit ourselves and the services of society to the available monetary funding instead of realizing that money is only symbolic and the universe doesn't operate on a budget.
- We operate more competitively and hinder the flow of information and education rather than operating collaboratively with information and education being freely available to all.
The list could go on, and hopefully we figure it out before we annihilate ourselves. Considering the massive amounts of power and energy involved, it also seems reasonable that unifying in peace is a requirement for advancement beyond Type I civilization status. Many of us are already near or at that level.
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