Where I live there are so many glimpses in the air, glimpses of Autumn in the changing gold and red aspen leaves and glimpses of Winter peeking down to dust the distant 14,000-foot-high peaks in the gentle whites of snow. There are glimpses of the future. National and local elections are beckoning everyone’s higher self to participate in the democratic process.

Tonight, my mind turns to a visit to the peat bogs of southwestern Ireland where I learned of how the Irish of long ago thatched a roof. Their method was simple. Just go do it. Our guide told us that this is the way it had been done for centuries in these small villages. Once someone had begun the process a neighbor was swift to join, as was the next and the next until at last, and often in less than a day, the roof was thatched, the house was dry, and people were living in nature, and a natural flow of cooperation.

Fossil records tell us our most ancient of ancestors, the archebacteria, were doing the same thing – 3.85 billion years ago – and that they are still doing so today. They are cooperating. In my back-to-school message as Cosmic Education Coordinator, I refer to cooperation as our secret ingredient, the key to our success, and have urged parents to discuss this principle with their children.

All of this is reminiscent of a now forgotten author who claimed that bacteria had invented animals to transport them from place to place, a notion that has always been, at the very least, provocative. Who were these bacteria anyway? The first were thermophiles. They loved the heat much as their descendants love the geysers in the hot spots found in the Yellowstone National Park here in the states. Like the roof thatchers in my ancestral homeland, they learned to cooperate and share whatever they had for the good of the community. They are still following the same basic pattern today, almost 4 billion years later.

They were harbingers of change, and being first, they set the pattern.

These bacteria practice the simplest and most generous form of sharing. When they learn something new, they rub right up against a neighbor and, through the miracle of osmosis, allow that memory, bound in their DNA, to slide through the cellular wall of their neighbor’s home, thereby becoming part of their neighbor’s memory and, ultimately, survival.

So in the tradition that is TIES, I pose questions: How can I offer what those in my life need? How can I, like those ancient bacteria, give as easily and as freely as possible so that someone or some process, can do whatever is needed, and use it to its greatest end? Could it be that greater cooperation is coming, and could it be that cooperation is the key to our success? Hasn’t cooperation been the key to the success of communities of all kinds?

I think so.

With all best wishes,

John Fowler

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