I have always been attracted to chaos and intrigued by anarchy. Needless to say my parents found this, well, shall we just say distressing, and my friends often found it a bit disquieting. Chaos and anarchy – I just found them interesting and kind of engaging, mostly in an intellectual kind of way, I must admit.
One of my favorite social work jokes for example goes something like this: what is the oldest profession in the world? … most people will respond prostitution. But the rejoinder is that it is social work. In fact, it is recorded in the Christian Bible! There you will find that it says that in the beginning god created the universe from chaos. … And, who do you think created the chaos? Social workers of course! (that is where you laugh, please.)
Typically we think of chaos as a state of complete disorder and confusion or as behavior that is so unpredictable that it appears to be totally random. But then there is chaos theory in math, with applications in meteorology, physics, engineering, economics and biology. Chaos theory studies the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, think the butterfly effect. Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for such dynamical systems, all of this creates the possibility for long-term prediction impossible in general approaches to statistical analysis and correlation. Chaos may not be as chaotic as it appears on first blush.
Anarchy first brings to mind visions of a society without a coherent public government. I prefer to dream of anarchy as efforts to build a productive, creative society that honors the dignity of sentient beings, that deeply respects fairness through radical empathy even while avoiding the use of coercion, violence, force and authority. Quite a dream, yes?
So, chaos and anarchy. But where does my attraction to them come from? Well, the other day I was reading James Michner’s book Poland. And right there on page 203 I found this passage: “in 1786 there was an old Polish truism. Anarchy is the salvation of Poland. We have always thrived on chaos.”
I read that passage an experienced it as a balm to my soul. I felt a soothing resonant connection to my roots. There indeed is nothing quite like finding home and connection. Chaos and anarchy are deep in my cultural heritage and roots!
And, what pray tell does this have to do with social justice and respect for human rights? I guess just that it is good to know who you are, where your roots are nurtured, and to respect the diversity of the differing grounds that nourish each of us.
So, go bloom where you are planted, and celebrate vast diversity of all the flowers that grace this kaleidoscope of our world.