FUSION AND THE POWER OF LIGHT
How a scientific breakthrough is key to understanding a lot of things
Yesterday morning I read about an important breakthrough in nuclear fusion and how it creates the possibility of near limitless clean energy. Certainly I realized this is important, but I can’t say I understood what any of it means in scientific terms.
A few hours later I was sitting on an airplane next to a woman who, when I asked her what she does for a living, said she’s an astrophysicist. It won’t surprise you to hear I began plying her with questions, and she was kind enough to answer with great patience.
In simple terms she told me that fission is when two very large objects collide, creating a tremendous amount of energy but also throwing off dangerous emanations in the form of radioactive material.
Fusion on the other hand is when a lot of small objects come together, forming a tremendous amount of energy as well. The challenge lies in the fact that there is a strong magnetic pull keeping those objects apart. The scientific task is to override the magnetism, achieved through using a laser of light.
At this point I was practically jumping up and down in my seat, at least to the extent possible when you’re wearing a seat belt. My new friend was apparently amused by my enthusiasm, and she understood what I was saying when I spoke of the parallels here between scientific and human dynamics.
Fusion is not only a scientific key to creating clean energy. The image is a personal key to repairing the world.
Many individual citizens coming together - overriding the magnetism of the artificially created atomization of our society - compelled to do so through the power of light - love, community, understanding, justice, compassion and so forth - is exactly the breakthrough we need now. This is not simply a scientific description of how energy operates; it is a spiritual description of how energy operates as well. I’m all in for us making that breakthrough on all fronts.
Last night I was speaking in Chicago and when I drew the comparison between fusion as a scientific concept and fusion as a societal one, I could tell that I was understood. Our separation from each other is the ground out of which our greatest dangers spew. As long as we remain divided, we will be vulnerable to hatred and bigotry and authoritarianism and manipulation of all kinds. We need to create the energy to override that. It’s in rising up from our separatist tendencies, personally as well as collectively, that we will form a united front that blasts aways all those things.
As citizens, we must fuse our hearts; we must commit not just to what works for you or for me but to what works for all of us. The biggest danger today is not simply attacks on Blacks, or Jews, or immigrants, or libs, or anyone else. In the words of MLK Jr., “A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The fact that there are attacks on anyone is an attack on the very idea of America. It is an attack on our democracy. It is an attack on the foundational principle of E Pluribus Unum - “out of many, one.”
Just as a cell in the body is led by natural intelligence to collaborate with other cells to serve the healthy functioning of the organ and the organism of which they are part, we are hardwired as human beings to do the same. When a cell disconnects from its collaborative function and goes off to do its own thing, that’s cancer. And this is a malignancy not only in the body but also in consciousness. Humanity has been infected with a malignant thought: that it’s all about me.
The power of that thought - the idea that we are ultimately separate from each other, each with separate needs- has created the powerful magnetism that now keeps us apart. This state of separation is exploited by powerful economic and political forces who gain and retain their power from our remaining separate. It is the light of greater understanding that will override that power and create the energy to repair our world.
For those of us intrigued by the concept of synchronicity, it’s reasonable to consider that the scientific breakthrough announced yesterday coincides with a similar breakthrough in our societal understanding. As I’ve travelled the country over the last few months, I’ve noticed a distinct difference among my fellow citizens between our attitudes before the pandemic and before the proliferation of MAGA extremism post-Trump, versus now. People now realize we’re in trouble deeper than we even knew. Collectively we’ve been flummoxed, but I sense that we are ready to stir.
On a certain level, no one can believe what’s going on in our country. Things are happening that many of us in our wildest dreams would not have considered possible. But after an initial period of near-paralysis, in which people were simply trying to process how any of this could even occur, I feel the country is beginning to ready itself for what lies ahead. There is at least an instinctive understanding that if we’re going to heal what’s happening on the outside, we’re going to have to change some things on the inside as well. It’s going to take qualities of personhood we had never needed in the same way before. It’s going to take a willingness to move beyond the comfort zones that keep us separate from one another, the magnetism that keeps us isolated in our atomized states. At least emotionally, it’s going to take the courage to break down some walls.
Institutions we always thought were strong enough to handle the job should our democracy be threatened, are in many cases trying their best but are clearly overwhelmed. The power to save our democracy will come from We the People as well as from our institutions. It will occur because our hearts as well as our heads get involved in the process. It will occur because we override the limiting lure of self-interest and think of something bigger than just ourselves. It will come from many, many individual objects coming together and creating fusion.
When we do, the energy created will be like a nuclear explosion of regeneration and repair. The lure of the light will have overwhelmed the magnetism of darkness. What separation has destroyed, our coming back together can begin to heal.
And one more thing about the power of the light. You realize it wasn’t an accident I was sitting next to that scientist on the airplane, right…?