June ’22: Then, Now, and Then Again
The Permanent Now is something we are all dealing with. It’s that feeling you get when Kate Bush suddenly reenters the conversation and you have flashbacks of your tape deck. It’s what happens when politicians parrot the talking points of the National Socialist Party and you have to check the calendar for the year. And since stability is just a concept, it can feel like the world is shifting and twisting faster than you can respond.
But, one of the neat side effects of the Permanent Now is the reevaluation of the past, the recontextualizing of the present, and the pruning of potential futures.
We can look at the historical records through a different lens to better understand the present and what it could mean for the future. Does that mean tossing away any assumptions about ‘back then’? Hardly. It does mean viewing ‘back then’ from a different perspective that allows you to see the present in a different perspective.
What about the global economy? Current research suggests that economic competition and scientific progress are mutually exclusive. As in, you don’t get to design new smartphones and competitively produce new smartphones. Regardless of what the rabid pro-business pundits may argue, collaboration and support are more cost-effective than ruthless competition on a global scale.
Thinking of the past as a fixed thing makes the present a fixed thing and results in the inability to accommodate the future.
What if there were more general aspects of the past that applied to the present and then to the future? What would those look like?
Let’s take reciprocal altruism for a spin.
From the simplest organisms, like bacterial colonies and plasmids, to the most complex information networks we have, we find that reciprocal altruism and the punishment of those who violate it’s principles results in a healthier, more stable herd/pack/community.
Which is why I use that part of the past to inform my present and then my future. And am willing to lose it and start all over again, if the Permanent Now shows me that reciprocal altruism no longer works, has never worked, and will never work.
And why am I willing to through it all away? Because of Darwin.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin, British naturalist
Human ingenuity has given us new blood and new nanomeds and new tattoos and new nano-tennas and new states of matter. And the deeper we study ourselves, the more we learn about where we came from, what shaped us, what we were.
Which changes what we are.
Which changes what we can be.