Today is Dr. Jonas Salk's birthday. He is best known for curing polio. And while I am extremely grateful for that remarkable feat, I am most fond of his 1981 pictographic essay entitled World Population and Human Values: A New Reality. Below are a few excerpts that methodically describe where our values should be today, given rapid population growth and increasingly limited natural resources.
“In this essay, the sigmoidal curve... reflects a law of nature that governs growth in living systems, and reflects the transformational character of change in our time... The periods of time prior to and following the point of inflection are referred to as Epoch A and Epoch B, respectively."
Epoch A Values
- persistent expansion of societies and industries
- extremes in growth and development
- competition, independence, power
- either/or, win-lose
- present, short-range, parts
Epoch B Values
- dynamic equilibrium
- collaboration, interdependence, consensus
- both/and, win-win
- future, long-range, whole
“This is a change from seeing the world as limitless in terms of growth to seeing it as limited. It is also a change from seeing ourselves in opposition to each other to seeing ourselves in collaboration with one another. It is due not only to a change in perception but to a necessary change in human attitudes and spirit that comes in response to a change in reality, as expressed by the shapes of the curves. The change from A to B can be seen in relationships to nature, our relationships to each other, and in our relationships to ourselves."