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Complexity

It’s no longer how far you walked to school and under what Ice Age conditions that will bore and annoy today’s children. "When I was your age..." will now precede tales of a simpler world, where one paid a single phone bill for a single (if party line) phone, or where a cup of coffee came black or with cream and sugar.

Now, I happen to enjoy a certain level of complexity, but we appear to be losing what little control we once fancied we had. Or maybe we are finally beginning to grok the world better. It took an excessive amount of time and energy for my small office to upgrade its computer system and it has yet to work smoothly. We all saw how a computer screw-up ruined the Christmas vacations of many travelers. And a screw-up of another kind failed to warn people in disaster’s path. And the flapping of those butterfly wings turned to bitchslapping California just for kicks. Truly, we are becoming a more interdependent and interconnected world but appear to be losing ground in our ability to cope, like a bad juggling act: duck, ‘cause here come the chainsaw and bowling ball. Too many moving parts at odds with each other. And the hazards grow in direct proportion to how much we have to lose.

I have no doubt that the human mind is up to the task. My doubts lie with the human heart. At the moment we seem content with this patchwork Frankenstein monster as long as it doesn't step on us. The will to confront our need to simplify, to streamline, to bring all these disparate threads together into some working system seems scattered by folly and short term thinking. The next big revolution will be in simplification, if we can only set our sights higher than merely lurching from one disaster to the next. We need to confront the world as one living organism, with all moving parts working in symphony. To step up to that challenge will be man's greatest evolutionary test.

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