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Life and luck
by Jan Sand
2007-01-01 10:31:19
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War is not an aberration of existence. Peace is an illusion. Every living complex from the individual cell to entire civilizations must, to exist, continually adjust itself to maintain its sustainable dynamic against the multiple assaults of a fluid universe.

There are rigid laws that control the operation of this universe. The closest approach to disorganization in the universe is the random emission of nuclear particles in radioactive decay. But even this is regulated by the rule of half-life that dictates the percentage of matter that will undergo decay over a unit period of time.

Within limited periods of time the assaults of forces on life can remain more or less uniform. There are, of course, temporary phenomena like whirlwinds, hurricanes, small meteor strikes, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and moderate weather changes around a norm. Over longer time periods there are major changes that readjust the norms over greater ranges such as the ice ages and the growth of deserts and astronomical interventions such as the meteor strike that possibly killed off the dinosaurs and variations in the radiation output of the Sun.

One of the most disturbing factors in these major changes is that they are not necessarily gradual. A major meteor strike obviously is sudden but the major weather changes may not be gradual. Ocean currents maintain the accepted temperature uniformities of various sectors of the Earth and several interconnecting factors impinge on this condition. The radiation acceptance by various atmospheric gases and the salinity of the oceans controlled by the masses of ice captured by the poles are the most evident elements. When these change slightly the effects on Earth temperatures may not be catastrophic but there seems to be flipping points where a build-up of small changes may reach a critical point that can trigger disasters. Our Earth seems to be approaching this disastrous condition.

Human organizations are directed in two basic confrontations. One, as mentioned above, is outward against the assaults of nature. The second is against other human establishments.

Like individuals, organizations accept themselves as internally homogenous and reject every other group to some extent, much in the same manner of our immune systems. Organized humans in the form of nations, religions, tribes, corporations, sports teams, etc. follow this pattern. It is this differentiation that causes both minor and major human frictions when their interactions to lead to disasters no less threatening than the wars with nature.

Thus human organizations tend to become rigid under the old rule:” if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Religions firmly tied to their traditions and ancient documentation are especially subject to this rigidity but governments are frequently not far behind. Businesses who must react quickly to rising competition and innovation either change or succumb

With almost infinite combinations of its basic forces and materials and systems in its armory nature is far more innovative than humans at this point. All our systems right down to our genetic makeup are assembled to confront the limited current environmental conditions. When nature deals out new conditions life must either adapt or die. Genetics is not particularly flexible in the individual and its only plasticity derives from random mutation. Species survival depends upon these accidents and nature is merciless in destroying individuals who cannot adapt to the new conditions.

So there is a continuous struggle between the conservative proved systems that eventually descend into inadequacy as the environment changes and the innovative departures from the safety of previous sure systems that overwhelmingly prove inoperative.in the short run.

Life squeaks by on those few lucky breaks where innovation makes the grade.

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