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.
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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LAWRENCE BOSEK is the Executive Director of Progress.org. He enjoys educating on technology and healthy green living. After 15+ years of consulting in the technology industry and educating in college classrooms, he has expanded his focus to assist in the healing evolution of the noosphere through education and meditative well being. Lawrence also enjoys the natural beauty of the Earth and sky, progressing socio-economic justice, and writing essays as well as poetry. His poetic picture book, entitled Garden Of Love, touches on social-environmental awareness and the evolution of consciousness. Currently, Lawrence is busy advocating for an Open Source Civilization, completing a Ph.D. program, and continuing to be a part of the evolutionary upliftment of humanity.