It's interesting to consider our definition of civilization. Looking back at our history we know there have been mighty civilizations in the past but up until the 20th century it was still possible to physically distance oneself from whatever extant belief system or empire that was the current paradigm. Whether moving to a mountain cave, a forest retreat or, in more recent history, to a distant state. 'Go West' was a mantra for personal freedom.
Now there's really no place left to go. Not only do we have the problem of global warming but there are so many more of us expected to arrive in the coming century that the human population may just about double. We're not going to gain any relief from population pressures by moving into space. The only real and proven way of reducing a population is through education and empowerment of women. Wars, poverty and chronic diseases do nothing to enhance our lives.
It's time we grew up but the problem is we don't know what a grown-up civilization looks like since we've never met one and we don't yet qualify. If civilization means having electricity, the internet, good health care, microscopes, radio telescopes and the ability to travel beyond our planet's gravity well then I suppose we're getting there. We continually discover new things and new technologies that could make the world a better place, but we seem equally likely to put them to work for destructive ends as constructive ones.
All we can hope to do is effect small changes in the way we ourselves see the world but we do at least know what a grown-up civilization would look like. It would keep on growing in wisdom and compassion. It might be one that would move quite naturally into things like space habitats and moon bases and ships that would take us exploring the neighborhood beyond Earth. If it did come to pass that in some future time we met other explorers it would seem quite likely they'd once have been people much like us, although not necessarily in appearance. My guess is that we're going through an especially dangerous time in our history whose result could go either way. Maybe there are beings out there who have civilizations far more mature than ours who are watching and have their manipulator appendages crossed for us.
I posted this painting once before so you may remember it but it's one that seemed fitting. Now I'm going to work on something else and it may just be that children's story a few of you have suggested. It will take a while since narrative art isn't my strong point :-)