We know more about the Universe now than ever before. Science is showing us its vastness beyond comprehension, its deep complexity, its ancient days, and its probable future.
Compared to the cosmos, we are very small, bits of protoplasm clinging to Carl Sagan’s pale blue dot.
As a sentient species, we are gradually realizing our insignificance among the worlds. I think it frightens us. We know that intelligence could exist elsewhere, but we have no proof —yet— that it does.
Scientist devote their lives to listening for a Signal, a calling card across the electromagnetic spectrum from Others who breathe and think. Lately these explorers have come to realize that alien civilizations may be out there, but lived and died eons ago. They have have called us, but we missed them.
We want E.T. We want to meet Others, not necessarily like us, but sentient and curious and like us, looking for some company. We feel lonely in the infinitude of the many suns.
Perhaps we have grown tired of ourselves, our discontents and shortcomings. We see our Earth, full to the brim with unhappy people, possessed by violence, hatred, dishonesty, and fear. We want to know that someone else has gone through these struggles, and survived long enough to reach out and seek others.
For all we know, another race is out there looking for us, wondering if communication is possible.
(Or maybe the aliens are already here. I don’t mean beings from another planet. I am thinking of the other definition of alien that refers to persons from other countries residing within our borders. Another angle, but relevant, given that extraterrestrials may be observing our propensity for unbrotherhood and deciding to stay the hell away. Maybe it’s time to put our house in order so as to provide a reason for Others to know us.)
So we wait. Years ago an early UFO investigator proposed that we construct a kind of lure to attract the attention of the flying saucers. It’s a rather silly idea, but it shows our desire to find new friends.
As I grow older, I see the value of friends and even enemies. My friends delight me, perplex me, and sometimes piss me off. Maybe we Earthlings, aged by millennia, are looking for the same thing on a grand scale.
Sometimes I think we’re alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we’re not. In either case the idea is quite staggering. —Arthur C. Clarke