“Let us not dare to add to the burden of another the pain of our judgment. If we would guard our lips from expressing, we must control our mind, we must stop this continual sitting in judgment on the acts of others, even in private. Let us by daily exercises in self- control learn to turn off the process of judging—as we would turn off the gas: Let us eliminate pride, passion, personal feeling, prejudice and pettiness from our mind, and higher, purer emotions will rush in, as air seeks to fill a vacuum. Charity is not a formula; it is an atmosphere. Let us cultivate charity in judging; let us seek to draw out latent good in others rather than to discover hidden evil. It requires the eye of charity to see the undeveloped butterfly in the caterpillar. Let us, if we would rise to the full glory of our privilege, to the dignity of true living, make for our watch-word the injunction of the supreme charity of the world—’Judge not.’” ~ William George Jordan
I’ve long believed in the power of atmosphere. Your personal atmosphere is an invisible, yet tangible quality much like the energy which generates waves in the ocean. It cannot be measured or quantified by modern scientific instrumentation, yet its influence is palpable.
The quality of your atmosphere governs the power of your influence on the future. If your atmosphere is unclouded by judgment, free of chronic tension and radiant no matter what is going on round about, your words and actions will influence the world around you in more ways than you might imagine.
Consider stem cells for a moment. Stem cells have the potential to develop into many different types of cells in the body. They serve as an internal repair system, capable of dividing without to replenish other cells. According to Medline: “Stem cells are distinguished from other cell types by two important characteristics. First, they are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division, sometimes after long periods of inactivity. Second, under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become tissue- or organ-specific cells with special functions.” What’s interesting about these cells is that the DNA does not govern the cell’s behavior, something above genetics does.
Hence the new branch of science called “epigenetics.” Epigenetics focuses on the expression of genes, rather than on the underlying sequence of DNA. Epigenetics focuses on chemical groups that attach to parts of DNA and alter gene function in response to social and physical environments in a process called “methylation.” University of British Columbia researchers recently discovered through the lens of this new branch of science that parents’ stress levels can leave more than just mental or emotional scars. The atmosphere provided by a stressed-out parent in a child’s toddler years actually alters the genes of the child into adolescence and possibly later in life.
Findings like these have rekindled an interest in a long-abandoned theory called “Lamarckian Inheritance” postulated by an 18th century French biologist named Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. Lamarckism is the theory that characteristics acquired by habit, use, or disuse may be passed on to future generations through inheritance. Researchers now realize that the environment in which you live – the visible and invisible atmosphere in which you grow and develop and through which you express yourself – has an impact on the individual cells that make up your body!
This is an incredibly freeing realization! You are not simply here to play out the programming encoded in the DNA of your cells. The nature of your atmosphere can influence the behavior or “expression” of your genes. Now put that in your pipe and smoke it!
Why is it so important that we maintain a personal atmosphere that is free of the common distortions of judgment, cynicism, fear, greed and so on? For one thing, the gases of judgment, cynicism and fear cloud your vision of the world around you but for another, they actually change you at a cellular level.
While this is important to the individual, it’s implications are far greater when considered in relation to the whole of humanity. The world can and should be a better place than we’ve made it, but the changes have to work out first in atmosphere and then at the cellular level. The changes you make in yourself to be a better person have the very real potential of affecting future generations, literally at the level of genetic expression.
You can change the world! Each time you rise to the full glory of your privilege, to the dignity of true living, you set a wave in motion that can energetically, physiologically and psychologically lap upon the shores of the future of the world we have been entrusted to steward together.