Friday, August 28, 2015

Three Natural Principles

Years of observation and reading lead me to believe that there are three basic principles of life that people have been taught to ignore. Our species would be a healthier part of the living world if we paid more attention to these principles:

1. Diversity - Since the first strand of DNA replicated itself in primordial soup, life has been served by inexact replication. Variations allow resilience as life adapts to ever changing conditions. From the cloning salps at sea to the fungus thriving on nuclear waste to businessmen in suits on the thirteenth floor, every form of life is built of variations of DNA, each slightly different than the rest. Whatever may come, it’s likely that some forms of life will be adapted to handle the changes.

Within human society, diversity is also a strength. Diverse intelligences compliment each other in any endeavor. Diverse cultures broaden our communication and understanding. Even though physical diversity among humans is less than most species (consider dogs), without the fearful prejudices of racism, this too could serve the whole.

Standardization of material items has been a key economic principle of industrial mass production. The error of applying standardization to living things has been immensely damaging to human opportunities for survival.

2. Symbiosis - We’re all in this together. The parasite that destroys its host also perishes. Evolutionary biologists tell us that symbiosis is selected for. Smart business people tell us that success comes to those who help others to succeed.

In fact the concept of the individual is flawed. Microbiologists tell us that complex organisms like people are in fact unique colonies of microbes. Fungus on our skin produces our pheromones and bacteria in our guts make the chemicals required by our nerves to communicate. Microbes greatly outnumber human cells in anyone. The functions of the cells are often too much to understand, but we know that each colony of microbes we call a person is unique and constantly changing. 

Microbes come and go, often interacting with other species in a great dance of life. We are like cells and tissues within a greater being with a singular will to survive. Objectively, we could say that the smallest independent life form yet identified is the entire ecosphere of Earth. It is also the only one we’ve positively confirmed.

When humans perform acts that deny the symbiosis of life, we become the cancer cells of Gaia. Toxic byproducts of war used against plant we’ve decided are weeds and insects we’ve labeled pests may undermine the very ecosystems upon which we’re dependent. Life will continue, but will humans?

3. Entrainment - This may be a principle of physics not unique to life, but it is at least as vital as the two previous examples. Put two pendulum clocks side by side and in time they will tick in a coordinated manner, either parallel motion or precise opposite motion. To my knowledge, though this experiment has been replicated, it has not been explained.

Rhythmic entrainment helps to explain symbiosis. Most living cells share a “circadian clock,” apparently derived from the regularity of the tides, themselves reflecting the orbital patterns of earth and moon. The human construct of time is itself born of these rhythmic patterns.

Industrialism has not denied rhythm. Every factory depends upon regular repetition. But when we try to create our own rhythm without regard to the natural patterns that surround us, we forget how to dance. Entrainment is a natural process, if only we remember that we are part of nature, not its director.


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