Time has come and gone, and sits now at the window —watching. When I was a child I sat at tables of concerned and brilliant people who discussed the fate of the world with great passion. It was the early 70’s and publications were springing up around the globe to announce the need to change the way humanity was living with each other and the biosphere. The radical revolutionaries were penning beautiful texts on systems theory, cybernetics, ecology, new forms of education, steady state economics, and exploratory versions of non-violent democracies. It was quite clear at my dinner table in 1976 that there were a few basic steps to be taken immediately to save mankind and the planet. They were: be respectful to all cultures, save the ecology, offer equal opportunity to all, resist runaway capitalism, and stop building nuclear weapons. More than 40 years later, whatever measures have been taken, no matter how well intended, we must admit that they have not been enough. While we may be ready now to embrace some of the criteria for survival from the mid-seventies – it is no longer the seventies. While still viable, these criteria appear quaint and insufficient now. Fixing economies, making civil rights laws, or developing sustainable architecture seems now to have been merely a form of prolongation of the epistemology that defaults to exploitation. Incremental change, it would appear, was an idea that ate decades. So, from this beginning point, (which is really a middle point), we sit today, with father time, by the window, watching.
In the past couple of posts, I have referenced Nora Bateson’s book Small Arcs of Larger Circles: Framing Through Other Patterns, a collection of essays, poetry, personal stories and excerpts of talks focused on systems theory and complexity thinking. I just finished the book and have underlined and tweeted a number of provocative lines that resonated and gave me pause (in a good way).
The most important set of genetic instructions we all get comes from our DNA, passed down through generations. But the environment we live in can make genetic changes, too. Researchers have now discovered that these kinds of environmental genetic changes can be passed down for a whopping 14 generations in an animal – the largest span ever observed in a creature, in this case being a dynasty of C. elegans nematodes (roundworms).