Changing Complex Systems

A bright, chilly day, the kind of Vermont day that leads to a healthy sap run in the afternoon. After a halt of a few weeks because of frigid weather, maple sugaring is again underway. Yummmmm!

Yesterday, I noticed a poster for an upcoming rock concert. The poster was affixed to a telephone pole and featured several bands, one of which carried the evocative name, Deer Tick. I’m hoping it is a metal band.

This time of year there is a large difference between our front and back yards. Out front the snow has largely melted away, whereas, in back, the snow still blankets the yard and woods. This is mostly due to the bare trees and hill protecting the snow cover out back from the intense late March sun. In a few days the snow will be gone from all but the deep woods.

Now that we have passed the equinox our attention increasingly turns to spring. While it is at least another month before we can plant early crops in the garden, spring wildflowers will begin to show themselves soon. Shortly after that we will start to watch for morels.

I like to remember that Earth’s climate has been unusually stable for the past five thousand years or so, allowing human agriculture and population to flourish. We’ve grown accustomed to a relatively predictable climate and have institutionalized that predictability into our  yearly calendar.

Now we are entering a period of rapid climate change and uncertainty is the new normal. Most likely the long stretch of relatively consistent climate was due to end even without our aid. While global temperatures are quickly rising, mainly do to human activity, chances are they would otherwise be falling as the Earth moved towards another glacial age. Change is inevitable, an inherent characteristic of large complex systems like that of Earth’s climate.

Our bodies are also complex systems. Being seventy I am reminded daily that the living system I inhabit is aging. When we are young we mostly welcome change as our bodies mature, offering us a wealth of new opportunities and experiences. In middle age our bodies appear relatively stable, a condition that evolves into more rapid change as we enter our late sixties and seventies.

Our understanding of the world also changes as we age. One of the beauties of a long life is we may be given the opportunity to glean meaning from a host of experiences gathered over many decades of living. If we can do so, we may find we have something to share with those younger than ourselves.

As I look at photos from the student lead and organized marches that took place this past Saturday my thoughts hearken back to my own engagement in social change, a life-long journey that began as a student. Changing our social systems is inevitably an ongoing task, one that will require the collective wisdom and commitment of many generations. I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity to support young people as they take up the cause of creating a sustainable, just, livable world.


4 thoughts on “Changing Complex Systems

  1. I’m feeling hopeful about generational change. We will be celebrating joining two families this coming weekend at my son’s wedding, blending English/Italian heritage with Haitian/African-American. I am looking forward to experiencing the energy of love and justice that I imagine will permeate that gathering, across generations.

  2. thank you for simplifying
    these complex systems!
    lots of winter for you,
    not much of a winter for me
    this year.
    wish you could magically
    restore that balanced
    complex system 🙂

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