Installment 1 of 21st Century Treatise.
Nature is always, tirelessly, constantly, and ceaselessly striving for balance. This is because it is comprised of endless pairs of opposites: matter/anti- matter, light/dark, positive/negative, on/off, high/low, male/female, animus/anima, ad infinitum.
There are two kinds of balance at work in Nature. We might immediately think of the scale kind of balance model, as in the ‘scales of justice’, similar to a teeter totter. A scale balance is an either/or situation: the energy on one side significantly outweighs the energy of other side, and we get a lopsided situation; or the energy is of equal weight on either side and balances perfectly. There’s no middle ground with the scale model of balance.
There is also a bell curve model of balance, where two extremes or opposites exist but the majority of the energy falls in the middle, creating a ‘bell shape.’ This inherently makes for a flexible, more stable kind of balance. The energy can shift slightly to one side or the other, but the system will remain viable and functioning. Since the dynamics of the bell curve balance place most of the energy in the middle of the spectrum, we can therefore perceive balance of this kind as belonging in the ‘middle.’ (Interestingly, our language is teeming with references to this ‘middle’ balance kind of model. We use the term ‘middle ground’ to indicate compromise, balancing opposite opinions if you will, and moving forward. The term ‘middle class’ defines the bulk of a nation’s economic, social, and labor energy. The wisdom of the Buddhist concept of ‘The Middle Way’ encourages moderation instead of the extremes of asceticism or self-indulgence.)
Examples of both models of balance abound in Nature.
On a scale model of balance, we know there had to be just the right amount of gravitational balance on our planet in order for Life to have developed; if it were slightly more or slightly less, Life could not have formed. Atoms possess the dichotomy of positively and negatively charged protons and electrons. This dichotomy allows them to bond together to form molecules as their charges attract to each other to achieve balance. The wind that tousles our hair is the direct result of a low pressure system and a high pressure system meeting and striving to achieve atmospheric balance.
An example of a bell curve model of balance can be seen in the age distribution of any animal group, there are a few youngsters and a few oldsters (technically termed outliers), but the majority of the group is middle age. If the energy of the system shifts too far one way or the other, let’s say there becomes an abnormally high elderly population, then we begin to see problems within the working model. In Japan, for instance, the growing elderly population is affecting the development of robotics. Since there are fewer caretakers than elderly, life size robots are being used as a substitute. In the US, the retiring Baby Boomer generation is leaving an imbalance in job fields such as engineering and electrical specialists since there aren’t enough younger people trained in these areas. It is also straining our Social Security and public retirement systems, which means funds to keep roads maintained or hire more staff for forest upkeep or open another sheriff’s position are compromised. Our current resources, both monetary and labor, are scarce due to an imbalance in retired citizens.
Nature is obsessed with balancing the millions of dichotomies inherent in its makeup. We humans are as subject to this peculiarity as every other part of the Universe, in fact it is ingrained within our very cellular structure. The membranes of our cells are careful ‘gatekeepers,’ allowing only a certain amount of fluid in or out to maintain homeostasis – balance. If Nature’s Law of Balance matters at microscopic levels, then it’s not much of a leap to understand that even the things we create: our institutions, our social frameworks, our cultural elements, and even our personal lives – are subject to the same Natural Law. When an imbalance occurs, whether from a germ that causes a fever in an individual, or greed that has caused a nation’s economy to become imbalanced, Nature will ensure that it is resolved to a balanced system. That’s Her thing.
It’s not always a smooth process to achieve balance. High/Low pressure systems can produce some nasty, damaging storms. Social balance is difficult to attain if one group refuses to give up control or privilege, as seen during the Civil Rights movement in the US. National economic imbalance places undue, extreme hardship on a country’s citizens who eventually push back against the policies that created the imbalance, the storming of the Bastille, for example. Here’s the glitch about achieving balance: the process is often violent. As severe weather storms can sometimes incur human casualties, often the restoration of social/political/economic balance comes at the cost of human life as well.
Balance is one of the most obvious Laws of Nature for us to observe, but we often miss the principle that our social constructs are as subject to this dynamic as any other. Take a moment today after reading a news article to reflect on the influence of this important Law. Does the article relate to some nuanced issue of balance? Consider the many situations the Law of Balance affects our lives. Don’t we strive to balance our work / home lives each day? Finally, understand that we can make good decisions based on the actions of this Law, both personally and nationally.
Thank you for reading. Next in this series: The Law of Balance applied to Economics.