Balance and Harmony

When one looks at nature and the universe one notices that the greatest complexity of atoms and molecules exist at an optimum temperature range between extreme hot and absolute cold.   Take for example the universe.  In places where the temperature is extremely high such as stars there is much randomness and little order to matter.  Atoms exists in extremely unstable states as plasmas where it is so hot that their electrons have been stripped off leaving unstable nuclei of primarily the two simplest atoms, hydrogen with one proton and helium with two.  Temperatures are simply too high for stable elements and chemistries to exist.  In much cooler areas of the universe such as our planets more complex elements and compounds can form and exist for long periods.  Earth is at an optimum temperature that is ideal for extremely complex organic chemistries making possible the formation of life.  In areas of the universe where temperature are much cooler such as most planets beyond earth complex chemicals can exist but reaction rates are so slow that complex organic chemical reactions simply do not have enough energy to form complex organic compounds leading to higher life forms.  At temperatures approaches absolute zero (-273C) atoms have no energy for chemical reactions and exist in stable and frozen states.

So Earth is at that perfect narrow range of temperatures where it is neither too hot nor too cold allowing the formation of extremely complex organic compounds leading to high forms of life and man.  Of course there are factors other than simply temperature such as the amount of background radiation, sunlight, available elements, etc. that also contribute to life but more than likely life and intelligent life elsewhere in the universe have similar conditions to our planet.

In nature, where the influence of man is at a minimum, life is in balance where predators, prey and resources are in equilibrium.  Predators have limited populations and are themselves prey to microbes, bacteria and viruses.  If the predator population grows too large they overhunt food which then become scarce leading to starvation making easy targets for diseases.  If any animal or life form becomes too abundant it eventually dies off due to the over consumption of resources in their environment.

Only man has the ability to override the natural evolutionary process, at least to a point.  Man has been able to devise means allowing him to live outside nature’s boundaries and increase in population unchecked.  Medical and technological advances have made it possible for man to sustain accelerated population growth.  Our population has exploded from less than 1 billion throughout all of man’s earlier existence to over 7 billion people today in a little over 200 years, since the industrial revolution.  But even man cannot defy the balance of nature indefinitely.

Man has dumped so much toxic waste and pollution into our atmosphere, lands, and waters and has stripped nature of most of its natural resources that he is starting to drown in his own byproducts like a virus which is killing its host with its toxic byproducts.  Greenhouse gases are starting to change that perfect balance in temperatures on our planet that might lead to a less than ideal environment for highly complex biochemical systems such as man and other animals to exist.  Man simply cannot defy nature indefinitely without serious consequences.  Our population is well overdue for massive reductions closer to sustainable levels below 1 billion as existed for hundreds of thousands of years until about 200 years ago.

Social survival is also about maintaining balance.  Too much freedom leads to chaos.  Too much order leads to oppression.  A delicate balance between freedom and order leads to the most affluent social order.  Too little government leads to abuses and chaos.  Too much government leads to an oppressive government with too much control over our lives.  A balanced government and social order leads to the optimum and most stable society and benefit to the most people.  Laws and regulations are needed to maintain order and reduce abuses.  But when law become overly repressive of people’s freedom and ability to pursue happiness then they are oppressively unsustainable lead to unrest.  Too few laws and regulations lead to too much power in the hands of the few who have most of the wealth and power: absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Nature simple does not like extremes such as poverty or overwhelming wealth and power.

So we should look towards nature for examples of how to live and govern our lives and civilizations.  The Chinese developed a philosophy of Ying-Yang which does not make judgment of what is good or evil.  Instead it emphasizes the value of maintaining the delicate balance between opposing forces for optimum and sustainable existence in life and society.  This philosophy was based upon the observed natural laws.  Doing too much of one thing or another is not healthy for individuals or societies.  Balance is the key to sustainable existence, maintaining that delicate middle ground.

I have been throwing the words balance and harmony around without really distinguishing between the two.  They have significant differences in meaning.  Balance means that there are opposing forces or beliefs which cancel each other out.  Harmony means that there are different forces or beliefs at work which are working together towards a common benefit.  One is somewhat confrontational and the other quite cooperative.  Both systems can be in operation in society though harmony is the most efficient at achieving its goal, though it is less natural, because it requires wisdom and intelligence.

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