Why are we so out of Sync with each other?

Sep 04

As I was sorting through the books on the shelves trying to decide which of my “babies” to part with in the garage sale I came upon a book I read several years back called “Sync – How Order Emerges From Chaos in the Universe, Nature and Daily Life” by Steven Strogatz.   Sounds a bit dry to you I imagine.  It did to me at first too but it was recommended by a friend so I undertook it.  I have to say it took me a long while to finish it as I undertook it as a “bathroom” read, meaning I only read a snippet here or there when I made my trip to the loo.

As I picked it up off the shelf this time and flipped back through the pages I remembered some of instances of sync discussed in the book.

Journal Science, 1917  “Some twenty years ago I saw, or thought I saw, a synchronal or simultaneous flashing of fireflies.  I could hardly believe my eyes, for such a thing to occur among insects is certainly contrary to all natural laws.” – Philip Laurent

For the next twenty years the Journal Science published multiple articles on this mysterious sychrony.  The book goes on to discuss numerous instances of sync in the world – brain waves, heart beats, menstrual cycles of women in close proximity, clocks, leaves of plants that open and close simultaneously.  Most of these examples are both synchronic and rhythmic.  But synchronicity doesn’t have to be rhythmic.  For example, the various sections of an orchestra – strings, woodwinds, etc. are synchronous as they come in to play in a piece but not necessarily rhythmic.

In any event, my point here is that the universe is drawn to synchronicity.  If that is so, then why can’t we, as a society, as individuals be more in sync?   We are once again in a political cycle.  Well really, these cycles are not cycles at all, they are perpetual states of re-election.  But these campaigns seem to draw us further and further away from sync with each other as they are designed to focus on our differences rather than where we are alike.  In religion, we have battles all over the world and here at home on who has the “right” religion, instead of focusing on where we are in sync.  There are many basic foundational beliefs in the religions of the world that are the same.  Can’t we focus our attention there to be more in sync?

I’ve stopped watching the news for the most part.  It just seems designed to aggravate and induce fear and anxiety.  NPR’s Talk of the Nation this week did a piece on the media hype behind Hurricane Irene and whether or not it was too much. http://n.pr/qpYULM  I think the same could be said for the earthquake in Washington, DC the week before.  We had the same level of earthquake out here in Colorado the same day and there was almost no news about at all.  We live in this age of constant media bombardment of “news” that’s not really news.  Its opinion, speculation and hype.  How do we stop this crazy cycle?  I’d like to see something like “the Good News Network”  or the “Just the Facts M’am Network”.  Wonder if that would even be possible today?

At the same time we are bombarding ourselves and our children with these images and voices of discord, we are also failing in our ability to have a civil discourse about any meaningful topic.  Can’t people agree to disagree and be respectful about it?  Why can’t we talk about our differences of opinion as the great debaters who founded our nation did?  I just don’t get it.  I like to read about and talk to people about different points of view.  That’s the only way to really learn.  Ask questions and listen.  Maybe you won’t change your view from black to white but maybe, just maybe, you will add a shade of gray to your point of view.

As a nation, as a world, and as individuals we desperately need to give this topic some serious thought and try to turn ourselves toward SYNC.  That doesn’t mean we all have to be alike, just that we move in better concert with each other -like the symphony.

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