October 18, 2004
“Has anybody here…………
Dr. John Mack
“There are no coincidences.”
It would not be appropriate to say I was a friend of John Mack. Acquaintance perhaps – we had met and spoken on a few occasions. It would be a considerable hubris to say a common interest in extraterrestrial-related phenomena made us colleagues. John Mack was a giant of the 20th Century, whose work will soon (but not soon enough) be vindicated. I was a repressed activist without portfolio who had misplaced the first half of his life and sought a role and purpose for the last half.
But John Mack would influence my life as no other. In 1995, while reexamining my long, but not pursued interest in the UFO question, I read Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens. That such a distinguished academic would dare to engage the abduction issue left an impression. It was one of many indications the study of extraterrestrial-related phenomena had risen to a new level. This in no way diminishes the work of Budd Hopkins, David Jacobs and others. But Mack’s 45-year relationship with Harvard University had implications for disclosure, the political resolution, and combined with other indicators pointed toward such a resolution being at hand.
And so it was in the late fall of 1995 from California I approached the Program for Extraordinary Experience Research (PEER) in Cambridge with a request to volunteer as a development assistant. PEER was part of the Center for Psychology and Social Change founded in 1982 by Dr. Mack and colleagues. Then Executive Director, Karen Wesolowski, handled such matters and generously accepted my offer.
For the drive across country I deliberately routed through Roswell. While driving in twilight across the vast expanse of New Mexico, approaching Roswell and staring into the darkening and beckoning mysteries of the government captive desert, there came an overwhelming sense of impending events and a sense of certainty and purpose so powerful, all fear fell away.
I arrived in Cambridge January 26, 1996 in the middle of one of the worst winters in decades. Cleared snow was piled higher than the tops of buses. Dr. Mack was out of town, so a week to settle in would be followed by an introduction upon his return in the first week of February.
John Mack had just passed through the two most difficult years of his professional life. It began when a woman approached him at a UFO conference and told him she was very interested in his work and wanted assistance in exploring her “abduction” experiences. She would eventually undergo several hypnosis sessions and shortly thereafter approach Time Magazine with a story of how she had “faked” her experience in order to expose Dr. Mack’s research methodology and UFO “cult.” The April 25, 1994 Time article triggered by her “scoop” led to a 14-month Harvard investigation that put Dr. Mack through the wringer and did not end until the fall of 1995 when Harvard issued a report which chose not to censure him and “reaffirmed Dr. Mack’s academic freedom to study what he wishes and to state his opinions without impediment.”
Behind the scenes this woman continued to create disruption for Dr. Mack including turning up at the June 1994 Annual Meeting of CSICOP, which had invited Mack to present. John estimated the cost of his Harvard investigation defense to be in excess of $250,000.
During 1995 the respected PBS program NOVA produced a documentary titled “Kidnapped by UFOs” featuring Dr. Mack and Budd Hopkins among others. Early in February of 1996 NOVA delivered to the office of PEER a pre-broadcast copy of the documentary as a courtesy. On the morning of his return to Cambridge John reviewed the finished documentary for the first time. He quickly learned that NOVA had turned the documentary into a “hit piece.” (One NOVA producer resigned when PBS suits demanded the documentary take this direction). Along with poor science and bad editing, NOVA had given over a full segment to the sting operation by the woman who had plagued Mack’s work for two years and nearly cost him his tenure. Her name was Donna Rice Bassett. *
Right after viewing the documentary Dr. Mack joined Karen Wesolowski and me in a meeting room. Karen made the introduction. “John, this gentleman has come all the way from California to help us and is very interested in your work. Please meet Stephen Bassett.”
In early 2004 I invited John to speak at the April X-Conference. His schedule was quite full, and as expected, he declined through an intermediary who did add that John was a bit uncomfortable with my “confrontational approach.” This did not offend. I am a political activist and confrontation (non-violent) is an indispensable tool. The government is enormously powerful and yields its secrets and its power with great reluctance – and time is running out. There are many paths.
But upon reading the reply I immediately recalled that February day in 1996 when we met for the first time. Later that afternoon in the reception area of PEER John was sitting on the sofa contemplating the NOVA documentary soon to be aired. He muttered to himself, “the fascists are coming to get me.” Inside the gentle professor was an activist who wanted a better world based upon understanding and compassion. I held out hope John would agree to present at X-Conference 2005. It would have been an honor.
Are there no coincidences? Certainly the synchronicity of that February day has remained with me. In May of that year, sitting in my office in Cambridge and contemplating my departure from PEER, my course for the next eight years simply fell out of the ether fully formed. I left for Washington in July to engage the “politics of UFOs” meaning the “politics of disclosure” meaning exopolitics. The work continues.
And the work is difficult, which is why one likes to find hooks upon which to hang their motivations. I found one. A woman who married a gentleman with the same name as mine tried to ruin a great man and demean his work. I am going to help end the truth embargo which prevents the vindication of his work. It will be a pleasure.
….and flights of angels…….
In 2002, during one of hottest summers on record, 30 volunteers set out to gather 5000 signatures from registered voters in the 8th Congressional District of Maryland in order to secure a place for me on the ballot as an independent candidate. The subject of exopolitics would be front and center in the campaign. The grocery stores did not permit soliciting inside the entrance areas, and with the high humidity the heat index consistently rose to 110 and stayed that way for the entire signature gathering process. They succeeded. There was no chance to “win.” It was purely about issues and principal. How do you thank such people?
Two of those volunteers were Derek Garcia and Peter Morgenstern-Clarren, both students of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. At the time Derek was the managing editor of the campus paper, Peter wrote for the paper and both were activists. These young men were way ahead of their time. They invited me to speak at Wesleyan and later created a student run course on extraterrestrial-related phenomena. There was so much interest they had to turn away applicants.
Peter was the history major, the social activist, leader of the campus chapter of Amnesty International, the brooder on social ills. He cared, he paid attention, he voted. After he graduated he spent time tutoring at his former elementary school. In a nation of citizens turning away from politics, from voting, from caring – even from reality – Peter was the antidote.
When the Cold War ended in 1991, it was as if the glue that held the American superstructure together melted. There were some good economic times, but something very wrong was happening deeper down, something hidden. The symptoms were emerging, and Peter saw them clearly. He saw them too well. He was an empath. The suffering in the world that was rising like a tsunami as the planet raced wildly forward without leadership and with common sense all but abandoned, was difficult to bear. He could not see past it.
On April 21 this year he stepped in front of a racing train leaving his family and his great friend Derek behind. I wrote Derek at the time:
“It will never ‘make sense’ because it is an act of passion and emotion. It is the surrender of reason to the moment and a refutation of the uncertain future. It is, in the end, what he wanted. He would have traveled to the stars. Now you will travel to the stars on his behalf.”
As I write this, it has been a difficult 13 months. Aside from the usual travails of this world, the community of researchers and activists has lost Graham Birdsall, Laurance Rockefeller, Lord Hill-Norton, Eugene Mallove, Gordon Cooper, John Mack and Betty Hill. But the death of Peter Morgenstern-Clarren affected me the most.
Is it not enough that the baby boom generation (children of the bomb) will leave our young people a bankrupt treasury, a degraded environment, fished out oceans, holes in the sky and a broken down political system which kills ideas before they are born? At least let them know the truth of their world. Let them know there is a galaxy awaiting them because the human race has already been found. It is being engaged. And this truth is more important than all the anti-matter weapons we can build, all the particle beam weapons in space, all the “extra edge” we can get on our new enemies, whomever they are, all the delayed technology transfer oil revenues we can bank, all the warm and fuzzy feelings that come from “knowing something you don’t know,” all the arrogance of power, the abuse of trust, and all the mansions in McLean, Virginia. The truth embargo isn’t worth it.
I wouldn’t trade Peter for all the political pundits, all the military/intel “insiders,” all the hot shot news anchors and the entire retinue of the Congress of the United States.
Peter and John are the alpha and omega of this paradigm change – a man near the end of his life trying to open the world for the young man seeking to find his life. Both stood up to a complex of thinking that surpasses even the closed minds of the 14th Century who stood at the edge of the ocean and commanded the tide to stop – these closed minds stand before the whole galaxy and command it to go away.
So the disclosure work will go forward. And these two men, named after two who traveled with one of the greatest truth tellers to ever walk the earth, will be in our thoughts.
* At the time of these events Donna Rice was married to Edward Bassett who had worked with Phil Klass at the Washington Bureau of Aviation Week and Space Technology in the late 70s and early 80s. Klass claims he played no part whatsoever in setting up Dr. John Mack – this from a man who tried to destroy Dr. James McDonald in the 1960s. Perhaps there are no coincidences.
Relevant Web links:
John E. Mack Institute: www.centerchange.org
Mack’s response to NOVA: www.beyondweird.com/ufos/John_Mack_Letter_To_Nova_February_1996.html
Peter Morgenstern-Clarren eulogies: www.wesleyan.edu/argus/archives/may042004/dateyear/w11.html www.wesleyan.edu/argus/archives/apr302004/dateyear/n2.html