More Than One Explanation

Lorraine holding three thick theory books to readLast December I recorded Nova’s Bird Brain and finally had a chance to watch it.

The promo mentioned crows and I’ve heard they are very intelligent.

Have to say after watching the show, birds are rather spectacular.

They’re not just pretty faces feathers either.

One species use tools. Many solve problems and can apply past learnings to entirely new situations.

If you’re at all nerdy curious, the show is worth the watch and your cats may enjoy it too.


A section, in particular, caught my ear and caused rewinding.


Many scientists believe that forming social relationships within big groups help drive the intelligence of animals like chimps and dolphins.

Living in a social group is hard. You have to remember alliances. You have to remember friendships.

There’s a hypothesis, the “social intelligence hypothesis”, that proposes that the selective pressures of living in these groups, of having to meet all the challenges, has favored the evolution of the brain that can do more complex cognitive processing.



I think that’s what we’re trying to remember.

Not that we’re in competition against each other, but that we have power together.

Dominance and divisiveness take us down an entirely different path than differences and diversity.


Let’s face it. We didn’t evolve for thousands of years going our separate ways.

Our survival depended on being social beings being together – and working things out.

But we forgot that.

And instead believed in hierarchy, ruling over and amassing at the expense of everyone and everything else.


Walking away is easy.

So is agreeing to disagree.

Being together, truly listening, and accommodating differences is hard.

Staying together means we have to change a little – or a lot – to find not only common ground but common ground in uncharted territory where nobody has gone before.


Imagine for a moment never learning about Charles Darwin and the concept of “survival of the fittest.”

Instead, you’ve only known about the “law of mutual aid” and the concept of “survival through co-operation.”

(Only in this past year did I learn both theories existed at the same time. The law link above is a good overview of its origins.)


What would your life look like if co-operation was the accepted norm, instead of competition?

How would your ideas about individuality, freedom and community change – or not?

Would you have different thoughts about yourself and how you fit into the world?


I thought differently.

No need to feel like a rebel anymore. Or out to lunch.

My deep deep deep inner sense of knowing our way forward is together wasn’t crazy.

I wasn’t wrong for being drawn to collaboration instead of competition.

I didn’t have to reconcile my experience and views of the world against facts or (what we know now) proof.

My opposition was merely a widely held explanation.


And that reminded me – the theory of evolution, the law of mutual aid, creationism, and all the other theories about everything are just that – explanations.

Meanings created based on what we see, what we’ve told ourselves, what we’ve been taught, what our culture says, and all the other ways we try to make sense of our world.

B.U.T – and this truly is a big B.U.T. – we can’t create meanings and interpretations incorporating what we don’t know or can’t imagine.

So we’re stuck where we are until we have something new to work with.


That new piece can change everything.

New pieces have the power to turn our world upside down –

How we think of ourselves.

How we see the world.

How we interact with each other.

How and what we question as being true.


That’s what I believe we’re seeing right now in our inner and outer worlds.

Events one after the other causing us to pause, reflect and decide again who we are individually and together.

For some, these times are empowering.

For others, squiggly get-me-out-of-this uncomfortable is a better word.

Perhaps for a good many of us, we’re facing the uncharted waters of having to create a new meaning for ourselves instead of taking what has always been as set in stone.

A different way is more than possible.

Keep going.


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Lorraine Watson - on rustic porch

chief nudging officer


Crazy for cats and potatoes, Lorraine's insatiable curiosity of Life leads her to question, explore and push beyond the box. A self-professed "left-brained creative big picture" type, she has an intuitive knack for seeing beyond and beneath first appearances while at the same time nerding out on the details. Most of all she sees and holds others in their highest until they can see it for themselves.

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