Nature will not let us fret and fume. She does not like our benevolence or our learning much better than she likes our frauds and wars. When we come out of the caucus, or the bank, or the abolition-convention, or the temperance-meeting, or the transcendental club, into the fields and woods, she says to us, ‘so hot? my little Sir.’”
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), “Spiritual Laws,” Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).
We humans have achieved some pretty amazing things since the agricultural revolution some twelve thousand years ago. Once we learned to manipulate Nature in various ways to suit our needs, we catapulted our species to soaring heights and our clever inventions allow us to lead a very charmed life today compared to our ancestors. We work in carefully controlled indoor climates, we live longer, and we are more aware than ever of our surroundings and how they function. We understand the universe in ways incomprehensible to Copernicus and we understand our bodies in ways unfathomable to da Vinci. We don’t need to hunt any longer for our daily food and we don’t even need to have sex to reproduce and pass on our genetics. We’ve been to the moon, we’ve put a tread mark on Mars, and some of us actually live in space. We homo sapiens have come a long, long ways indeed.
While we bask in our achievements and enjoy their conveniences, there is cause for worry. As we’ve progressed from cave-dwellers to space station tenants I have observed a great disconnect between Mother Nature and scores of her bi-pedal children because we are no longer as intimate with Nature’s workings as we once were. It seems a logical by-product of our advanced civilization: we live and work mainly indoors and get our food from cans and bottles and jars. Our experiences with Nature are confined to camping trips, gardening, and domesticated canines and felines. This limited interaction with, and independence from Nature means that we have lost touch of how Nature works. We fail to remember – and recognize – that we are as subject Nature’s laws as the rest of the universe. In fact, even our social structures and the civilizations we build from them are governed by Nature’s Law’s, “So hot? my little Sir.”
Twenty-first Century Treatise applies the Laws concerning dichotomies, balance, diversity, connectivity, cooperation, and life to our social structures and civilizations in order to discover some very important lessons about ourselves and how our societies work. We learn how Nature’s laws affect our personal lives. We learn that Nature’s laws apply to our social frameworks and we can make pragmatic decisions using those Laws to develop policies that sustain healthy societies. We learn that it is possible to make conscious, long term political decisions through the lens of Nature’s laws. We learn that certain areas of our nations must be balanced in order to be healthy and growing; and that we can control those areas with effective legislation. We realize why it’s important to be diplomatic with our international neighbors.
It is my hope that this Treatise will provide some tools for positive decision making as we continue to grow and move forward together. We are an amazing creature, but we cannot forget that we are, and will always be, subject to Nature’s Laws …. and so are the civilizations we build around us.
The Laws of Dichotomy and Balance: (perhaps the most important of all the Laws which is why they’re given top billing)
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 as in the ‘scales of justice’, similar to a teeter totter. A scale balance is an either/or situation: the energy on one side outweighs the other, or it is of equal weight and importance to balance perfectly.
There is also a bell curve 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, we can therefore perceive balance of this kind as belonging in the ‘middle.’ Our language is teeming with this particular terminology. We use the term ‘middle ground’ to indicate compromise, coming to an agreement, 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 and self-indulgence.
Examples of both kinds of balance abound.
On a scale kind 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, the building blocks of all matter, are comprised of protons and electrons, positively and negatively charged. This dichotomy allows them to bond together to form molecules as their charges join to balance each other out. The wind that blows in our hair is the direct result of a low pressure system and a high pressure system meeting and striving to achieve atmospheric balance. (Incidentally, the wind is a perfect example of the benefit of Nature’s law of dichotomies: often the struggle to achieve balance between two extremes results in the creation of…..energy.)
An example of a bell curve 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 Nature will ensure that a correction is made; an illness, an unusually harsh winter, or an abundance of predators so that balance is achieved once again. This very situation is occurring in Japan in human form at present, so much so that it is affecting new marketing and sales development. For example, the industry of robotics is gaining ground as life size robots are being used as caretakers for the elderly. It will interesting to watch this situation over the next few years to see what elements become involved in dealing with the imbalance. In another example (perhaps not exactly a true ‘bell curve’), Nature ensures that there is just the right balance of light and dark, warmth and cold, on most of the earth so that we enjoy an efficient cycle of seasons for growing food and sustaining our population. Light and warmth aren’t divvied out in equal parts consistently, we only have two days labeled ‘equinox’ on our calendar, but over the course of the year, there is enough to sustain us.
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, whether we realize it or not, it is ingrained within our very cellular structure. Our physical bodies are constantly adjusting themselves so they stay a toasty 98.6 degrees. Bookstores are loaded with self-help sections designed to help us with something we call ‘life balance.’ We try to eat a ‘balanced diet’. Consequently, all the things we create – our institutions, our social frameworks, our cultural elements, and even our personal lives – are subject to Nature’s law of balance. 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.
Applying Nature’s Law of Balance to Economics
The foundation of the science of economics operates on the simple struggle between the dichotomy of supply and demand and the market’s ability to find a balance with the two: neither too many widgets, nor too few; neither too high a price or too low.
National economies aren’t so simplistic however. We can observe from history and current events that the healthiest systems operate on a bell curve balance; with some living in poverty, some living in wealth (the outliers), but the majority of the population or the “middle class” lives… in… the….middle. This kind of economic structure works well for a number of reasons. First, the middle class provides the backbone of a nation’s workforce: educators, health providers, first responders, law enforcement, laborers, construction workers, and small business owners. The consequence of this means that the middle class really defines a nation’s personality as it tends to dictate cultural trends, support political movements, and operate local communities. The emerging middle class in Brazil, for instance, is having a huge effect on the evangelical church there. Brazil has typically been Roman Catholic but with a bit of financial security, the middle class is supporting a protestant movement to the tune of billions of dollars and several mega churches, causing a noticeable cultural shift in the country. A healthy middle class also supports consumerism which keeps an economy vibrant.
For many years the United States was the epitome of a nation whose middle class was idyllic; specifically during the 60’s and early 70’s. There were some reasons for this. Taxes were high on both corporations and individuals which meant redistribution of monies, enabling us to do achieve some great things. We invested in education which became paramount since we were striving to prove our space dominance. Correspondingly, we were advanced in medicine and other areas of science as well. The Cold War spawned a large military along with its research and development. We became, and still are, the largest militarized nation in the world. Wages kept up with production which meant that the economy was expanding because the bulk of the population was able to spend what they were making. Debt ratios were manageable. The economy was balanced according to Nature’s law. It was healthy.
Similarly, following World War II, South American nations such as Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay began a project of nationalizing indigenous resources, investing in education, transportation, and industrialization. By providing these foundational needs, these countries developed a thriving middle class which meant a balanced, healthy economy.
In both cases a disruption in economic policies caused the middle classes to shrink and national economies to grind to a halt. In the United States the Financialization Revolution, marked by years of gradual erosion of Wall Street regulations combined with increasing control over economic policies by financial markets and corporations is largely responsible for the imbalance the US and Europe is experiencing currently. The result has been an obvious upward shift in wealth, increased debt ratios, stagnant wages for most workers, and very little economic growth. The bulk of our workforce energy has shifted downward from the middle, leaving us with an economically imbalanced society which will require amelioration at some point, not unlike the time of the Great Depression.
In the South American countries, politicians began to subscribe to Milton Freidman’s economic philosophy which meant privatizing national resources and drastically cutting back on social service programs A few got rich, most became poor. Eventually the middle class disappeared and the economy became stagnant- symptoms of imbalance and illness. National leaders were required to re-instate social programs, nationalize instead of privatize and invest again in infrastructure. The result: a gradual, but slow recovery of the economy, better balance and economic stability.(see Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine).
Balance is everything according to Nature and man made national economies are as subject to this premise as the wind. When the middle class disappears from a nation’s system an imbalance occurs, economies stagnate and shut down, requiring human intervention and effective policy making in order to once again conform to Nature’s Law.
Next Installment of Twenty-first Century Treatise to be published February 1, 2016 where we will consider how Nature’s Law of Balance affects our personal lives and societal movements.