The Many Challenges of the Volunteer Ufologist
It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Becoming a volunteer Ufologist may be something you were born to do, drifted into, or were dragged kicking and screaming into by your own close encounters. However you got to this place, here you are. Why do people work hard for causes they care about without getting paid for it? That question is often asked and there is no simple answer. Each person has his or her own reason for being involved. However, the one common theme almost universally agreed upon by volunteer ufologists is this: the one who gets most out of this work is the one who volunteers. This is the wonderful paradox.
For many who become what we describe as immersed in this field, but may be better described as saturated, they have come to the realisation that more does not necessarily mean better. Striving for more money and more things does not guarantee more happiness, fulfilment or meaning in life. As Philip Berman states in his book, “The Courage of Conviction”, “It seems important to bear in mind that it is entirely possible to be wealthy with things and yet, at the same time, intellectually and spiritually impoverished.” Ufology is one field where one does not have to worry about having too much money as many ufologists not only seek ways to devote more time to the study of the UFO phenomenon, thereby negating any possible extra energy which may be diverted into making more dollars, but gladly self fund their personal research needs, again keeping many financially retarded.
Hence we have our first challenge – funding. There is little paid work available in Ufology. That’s why ufologists are forced to perform their work on a voluntary basis. Some write books about their research but they do not become rich from these ventures and probably only make a minimal return in relation to their efforts. Others will gain a reputation or following and manage to be part of a lecture-circuit, which may even take them around the world. Again, although their costs may be covered and they have a nice holiday they only make a small return. However, in general, many ufologists are forced to convert to voluntary simplicity so as to be able to redirect what money they do have into purchasing their equipment, funding their travel costs and their research efforts. Most are usually satisfied with this lifestyle as for many their financial desires become less as they become more and more engrossed in their area of interest and study.
Although the field of Ufology is not financially viable at this stage, people still become involved and there are other rewards besides money. One of those rewards is recognition. Recognition is a basic thirst that needs to be quenched. The need to be recognised, accepted and praised by one’s own peer group can be worth far more to the heart than many other accolades. However recognition can unbalance a researcher when it is not matched by an equally intense quest for the truth. Hence we are faced with our second challenge – ego.
While most ufologists are concerned with getting to the truth and heart of the matter and are generally immune to the need of the good opinion of others, some aren’t as free from that need. Some researchers require the good opinion of others, recognition and validation. In the UFO arena one cannot help bump into, or up against, one’s peers from time to time and if those peers do not share your motivation for being a Ufologist this can create division, disharmony and disillusionment. As the human condition and need for survival requires us to have an ego, it is only natural for us to want recognition. However, when the focal point for research shifts from the search for truth to the need for recognition, this is when Ufology can appear to be a highly- strung, ego-centred, unbalanced and negatively oriented arena. It is something that the UFO community struggles with constantly and to date no solution to the challenge of ego has been found.
On the flip side of this challenge is the freedom and general conditions necessary for each researcher to forge his or her unique identity. Ufologists are free to pursue their personal interest and areas of research while not being encumbered to meet such a narrow focus as scientists adopt. In this way Ufology brings together diversely interested people with many talents and opens the door to ideas which would otherwise be rejected. Without this compensation there may not be as many willing volunteers.
The third challenge to this field, which is rarely articulated but many sense, is the fact that the plight of ufologists is heavily laden with idealism, and uniquely high idealism at that. With such high ideals there is little tolerance for the apathy of the general population whose lethargy towards birthing the new world complete with extraterrestrial neighbours is considered to be like shooting oneself in the foot. Consequently, feelings of ‘us against them’ often arise which can lead to a sense of separateness and isolation from general society. The UFO community needs to constantly guard against these feelings by consistently building bridges to those it feels isolated from. In so doing, the trickle effect into humanity of changing perspectives is maintained and evolution in consciousness is perpetuated.
The fourth challenge is maintaining momentum, avoiding burnout and staving off the feeling of getting nowhere. As many know, getting your point across to the general public and media does seem like flogging a dead horse at times. Spurred on by idealism ufologists will ‘go the whole nine yards’ if given their heads, but one can only take the door being slammed shut in one’s face for so long. The truth is we are trying to sell a product that nobody wants to buy. The collective conscious and will of society is stubborn at best and down right blinded by denial at it’s worst. This is the challenge. Ufologists may have to be content with merely keeping the UFO subject alive until the general flow of consciousness catches up with what the UFO community considers to be ‘old hat’. This may be all we can achieve for some time while we play the waiting game.
There are many more challenges but these are some of the most important and prevalent long term stumbling blocks for ufologists and we need to find ways to overcome them. So far we have not done so but tomorrow is a new day.