How would you react to an alien encounter? Host a welcome party, or run for cover? That’s the question posed by “We Are Not Alone” at the Camden Fringe Festival.
This event aims to prepare citizens for the imminent arrival of beings from outer space, in a session lead by two experts with differing views – astrobiologist Dr Alex Parker, who is fascinated by new life forms, and military specialist Captain Reynolds, who is on the look-out for signs of any possible threat to civilisation as we know it.
The workshop features two knitted finger puppets, which look perfectly harmless. If alien creatures this tiny turn up on our turf, we should have little to worry about. (Unless they’re like Star Trek tribbles, multiplying at warp speed, or shapeshifters.)
It seems highly unlikely that we are alone in the universe, and it would be incredibly arrogant and short-sighted to assume that humans are the only life form in existence to have populated a planet and made it their own.
We’ve only taken the first small step in space exploration, so any aliens who manage to reach earth must surely have technology far superior to ours. Hopefully such advanced beings would have evolved to the extent that they shun violence, and their mission to earth would be a peaceful one.
On the tricky question of how to react to an alien encounter, here’s my three-point plan. First, make a rapid assessment of the situation. Trust your instincts. Do these life forms appear threatening or benign? Check out their dress and demeanour. Are they wearing helmets and body armour, or loose, flowing robes? Any weapons, visible or concealed? If in doubt, familiarise yourself with the nearest exit.
Then, if they seem friendly, try a simple greeting, such as hands clasped together, a gentle nod and a smile. If they mirror your actions, all well and good.
Finally, if you feel comfortable enough to open the channels for verbal communication, you could start by chanting a simple mantra. The most widely recognised one is probably Om. Keep an open mind, as they are unlikely to speak our language, but might communicate telepathically.
It’s probably best to avoid waving. You might see it as a friendly “Hello!” but in the animal kingdom, a similar gesture can mean: “This is my territory – keep your distance!” Some earthlings might well feel that way about unexpected guests, but perhaps they’re just visiting, rather than here to take over our planet, and when they see what we’ve done to it, they might just turn around and head for home.
We Are Not Alone is showing at the Hen and Chickens at 6pm on 27 and 28 August https://www.camdenfringe.com/index.php
by Angela Lord