by David Sisler

If an alien space craft landed in your back yard, what would you say to the ship's occupants? Omni magazine recently posed that intriguing question.

Erin Murphy, the author of "What Would You Say to an Alien?," surveyed leaders in the U.S. government, governors of all 50 states and the U.S. territories, mayors of major U.S. cities, and influential figures in the arts, science, the media, and other fields.

President and Mrs. Bill Clinton, as well as Vice President Al Gore, did not respond. Ms. Murphy cited other pressing needs, like health-care reform and the crime bill as reasons why the White House did not reply.

Cartoonist Berkeley Breathed, creator of "Bloom County" and "Outland" said, "Priorities would have to be decided, of course. Naturally, official victim status would need to be established, a grievance group founded, and letterheads designed. A suitable term for their minori- ty would need to be determined even before their feet, or tentacles, or ambulatory hair follicles reached the ground from their craft. For instance, 'alien of color' or 'non-color' if pigment-challenged. The Los Angeles Times would have to be informed of these terms and their stylebook appropriately changed. At that point we could move forward to nailing down a merchandising deal. Anything else would be small talk."

Pedro Rossello, the governor of Puerto Rico, said, "Could you possibly stay around long enough to do a couple of tourism-promotion commercials for us?"

Arno Penzias, vice president of Research, AT&T Bell Labs, responded, "Hopefully, [their advanced intelligence] would give them enough insight to avoid triggering a social calamity when one of them gets on a talk show, or meets an overly ambitious politician."

Playwright Arthur Miller said he would tell them, "Go back! Go back! You can get killed here!"

Comedian George was equally pessimistic. His statement would be,

"Get out! Save yourselves! You don't know what you're getting into. Prolonged contact with our species can only degrade your present standards, whatever they are."

Edward G. Rendell, the mayor of Philadelphia, would "ask them if they had a cure for AIDS, unemployment, crime, drugs, hopelessness, and the breakdown of the family."

The governor of Kentucky, Brereton C. Jones, said, "I would want to give them two items that I believe would best explain who we are as a country. I would present to them a copy of the U.S. Constitution, and a copy of the Bible.

"The Constitution, I would tell them, is the compilation of rules that we as a people have chosen to follow. The Bible, I would continue, is the compilation of rules that our Creator has chosen for us to follow.

"I would explain that we do not always abide by all of these rules, but we are striving to do so, and that is our ultimate goal."

Writer and comedian Steve Allen's response would be, "Most of us assume that there is some all-powerful spirit that has created literally everything. But even our most intuitive theologians have always been at a loss to explain why a benevolent deity would create poisonous snakes and spiders, deadly plants, and billions of bacteria and viruses that daily kill millions all over our planet. It follows, therefore, that if you are in a position to enlighten us on such age-old questions, we will be profoundly grateful."

One more.

Paul Bohannan, anthropologist and writer said, "It seems to me that it makes little difference what we say. Far more important is that we listen and pay attention to what we hear."

Our planet has been visited by someone not from our world. He assumed our form and lived here for 33 years. Then He was arrested and executed. But when His Father raised Him back to life, He said to everyone on Planet Earth, "I love you. That is what I died. Now, if you will trust me, you can live forever."


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 3/4/95

Copyright 1995 by David Sisler

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