Learning from the Atoms

“We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not merely so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections.” – Neils Bohr

To create a just society, one only needs to look at the democracy of an atom. How elegantly the electronic citizens exercise their freedom of expression, while faithfully upholding the nuclear constitution. How generously the electrons are shared across the atoms, creating a global molecular community, with every citizen being treated equal before the laws of quantum mechanics. All kinds of molecules, in every possible orientation and conformation, in all kinds of geometry and shapes, fully exercising their right to exist, some stable enough and reclusive, as if a hermit who has made peace with himself, and the world, while some are reactive and radical, as if an activist, trying to touch and transform as many molecules as possible, until every one finds salvation. How prophetically some of them find each other, conjoining forces in genesis, as if seeking a higher purpose in their existence, while fulfilling the same in their lifetime. The genetic ensemble, springing from existing molecules, and sprinting towards virgin ones, sometime dormant over eons, but twisting and turning, permuting and combining, as if waiting for resurrection, bestow life with the right to survive, and thrive, and express, often a failure, seldom fortunate, but none futile. The left leaning amino acids, and the right leaning sugars, working in unison to create that symphony of love, which is neither right, nor wrong, but intelligent to relay the process forward and reach for the stars, and wise to remember the journey it has already made from the stardust. Let us not unravel these delicate strands of life and forego this consciousness. Let us not choose power over knowledge, let us not run away with intelligence, and leave wisdom marooned. Democracy lives within our elements. And the justice we seek, already exists in our genes. Let us find it within ourselves, in each atom of us, in the conscientious pursuit of our consciousness, and in the faith of our shared humanity.

(This is a reflection in times of the impending election in the ‘strongest democracy’, based on an understanding of my background in Chemistry, the good fortune of having the chance to spend time in the wilderness and ponder, and inspired by the many thoughtful quotes, quips, haikus, doodles, and poems from a wonderful class of students at Oxford College of Emory University.)

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