The capricious way in which our universe operates; first change of heart, albeit physical and not metaphoric, to happen in Gujarat had to be between Asif and Arjun.
As we have Asif’s heart beating in Arjun’s body today, it is a symbolic event that tempts me to talk about (Please remember that this is a science column) acceptance/rejection of data by a natural system and what it means in context of society.
Every living system, be it a cell or a body or even a society, is actually a self-organized data structure. A system lives as long as it can keep this data structure organized. If this data organization is disrupted, the system will fall apart, so retaining data integrity is central to survival of any system.
One of the greatest agents of such a disruption is insertion of new and alien data into a system. As new data entering a system can put stress on the existing organization by demanding reorganization, all systems are extremely hostile to insertion of new data.
When described in context of data insertion this phenomenon appears a bit novel, but it is the most common drama getting enacted at every level of life. Be it a viral invasion into a cell or transplanting a new heart into a body or pressing a new thought into a mind; it is actually a data insertion that is always resisted by host system. Systemic rejection by host is evolved by nature at every level of life.
But, when we look at it from Asif-Arjun perspective, we are confronted with an insight that forces us to review this mechanism of systemic-rejection. When Asif’s heart is transplanted in Arjun’s body to help it survive, it is Arjun’s body, the beneficiary itself, tries to reject its savior. This situation is completely counter-intuitive to our survival-centric understanding of life. If survival is a priority for life, what has gone wrong here?
The problem with natural systems is that they are not self-aware and hence have no ability to pre-cognize and solve a problem by accommodating even a beneficial change. So, it is understandable that they believe in resisting a change, even if it can be for better. But, we human beings have now acquired an unprecedented ability of self-awareness. Which means that we can evaluate merits of a change and can change if need be; but, unfortunately, we are still not able to imbibe and absorb this advantage; so deep within all of us the ancient machine of systemic-rejection still runs on autopilot.
The biggest problem caused by this is at social level. Societies are massive systems and thus extremely resistive to change. As a society is a large collection of individuals, change requires a critical mass that is difficult for achieve through insertion of new information because individuals too are prone to opt for rejection over acceptance. This makes societies rigid and least adaptive, even when in dire need of a change.
If we look around us, the greatest survival threat humanity faces is because of this rigidity that is now pitting societies against each other. Even though we can see the need for peaceful co-existence through global cultural alignment, world is at war because societies are unable to change.
The only option is, we as individuals understand the need to change and explore our ability to change. If we can learn to suppress the natural rejection, we can garner enormous benefits that such changes can bring to all of us.
Just as accepting Asif is likely to save Arjun, a change of heart may start a chain reaction that can lead to a social change that has potential to save the world.