We openly fear the possibility of aggression when it comes to extraterrestrial First Contact. We seldom talk about the internal dangers. Direct alien First Contact poses many threats to our world that have nothing to do with marauding spaceships and open warfare. Direct First Contact would be a real shock to our civilization. Extraterrestrial visitors would be wise to make sure we are as stable as possible before that contact occurs.
The current world economy is one example. We’re having enough trouble keeping the economic system afloat. The shock of First Contact could cause markets to tumble, lead to wild speculation, and cause many to pull money out of stocks and bonds. It’s tough to say just what might occur, but it is a risk and a risk the visiting aliens would want to take seriously.
World conflict is another concern. It would probably be a bad idea for ET to land and say hello during a tense stand-off with North Korea over nuclear weapons.
Stability needs to be considered, as well. The interim period, after a Presidential election in the United States, and before that new President takes power, would be a bad time for Direct First Contact. The President of the United States will be an important player in a Direct First Contact event, no matter where that contact occurs. The same could be said for the Secretary General of the United Nations. ET would want to pick a time when the United Nations leadership was stable and unstressed.
Given the wild nature of our little planet, it will be a hard assignment to pick a truly perfect time for Direct First Contact. There will always be some crisis occurring somewhere in the world and a degree of instability. However, steering clear of the truly rough patches, like the recent economic mess, would probably be best.
Direct First Contact will have a profound impact on our civilization. The risk comes from the revelation undermining our economic and political systems. The danger comes from the reaction of world religions and rogue nations. For the most part the native societies we discuss in European first contact did not get wiped out in war; they collapsed over a period of time as the pillars of their civilization washed away. We need to heed the lesson and protect ourselves.
The timing of a First Contact event is, of course, out of our hands. We can only hope that they have been watching us carefully, and are waiting for the right moment.