Evolve or die

Chit U. Juan (The Philippine Star) - May 6, 2021 - 12:00am

Charles Darwin had a theory: Man must evolve or die. (Woman must evolve, too.)

To explain further, Darwin, a naturalist, said that we develop through variations that “increase our ability to compete, survive and reproduce.”

The four components of evolution are: variation, inheritance, selection and time.

So if we stop evolving, we will be removed from the world.

And that also goes for groups, organizations, clubs and even families. Any aggrupation, for that matter, ought to evolve and change with the times. So in our coffee group, for example, we have observed and even joined the creation of younger groups in social media rather than just a formal organization that is the industry’s go-to group. These are the influencers, coffee consumers and other coffee stakeholders. The group Coffee Home Brewers grew from a handful to thousands of members now. Their discussions are important pulse points of a sector that is evolving. While older organizations still have a role of formal partnerships and collaborations, these active albeit informal groups echo the industry movements.

In my other group of sorority alumnae, we are evolving by electing younger women to the board (except maybe four of us older ones) to reflect the needs and aspirations of today’s young university graduates who still wish to get involved with sorority civic projects even after graduation. Alumnae need not be just senior sisters who will be sharing about their yesteryears but younger graduates who are excelling in their fields or are seeking a change in career. It’s that age group – 20-40 years old – that we now have represented, as these are also the “drop out” years when women choose family roles exclusively and almost forget about their careers.

In the corporate world, women who drop out at these “productive” ages almost never come back to the workforce. But with technology, “work from home (WFH)” status and time provided by entrepreneurship opportunities, women are evolving to be the real multi-taskers that they are. Very soon, career women can WFH while being mom to her growing children. Add the “online schooling” tasks and dads who are also WHF can now really share in the work and home duties. The pandemic really made even the family evolve into a “shared community” of work and play. It’s not just mom now. Dad is also around at home and mom need not drop her career.

In our women empowerment arena, where I have been active for the past 14 years, we need to also change the way we do things. They say seven, 14 and 21 years are always years of change in anything – a business, a career, even organizations. From 2014 when we founded the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network (AWEN) we have since caused the union of competing organizations with similar purposes – women in the economic field – such as CAMWEN or Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Network, AWEN Thailand and our very own PHILWEN, a four-year-old group composed of six women organizations (www.philwen.org). Evolution is key if we must survive and thrive and not think of ourselves as the only anointed ones, but just one of now many heads thinking of a common goal – empowering women in business.

Now, what about our advocacies in sustainability and the Slow Food movement? Under the Philippines we have many geographically-named communities: Slow Food Negros, Slow Food Pangasinan, Slow Food Sugbu (Cebu), but all belonging to the umbrella Slow Food Philippines. Even Slow Food international (born 1986) has evolved to adapt to the changing times. Slow Food now welcomes all communities – any group of 10 people with the same ideas can be recognized as a Slow Food community. Gone are the days of just Slow Food convivium or chapters only. Everyone is welcome to bring about change.

And this is why we need to adapt or die. Evolve or die. We cannot keep holding on to the past because that is exactly what it is – passé.

Let us remember theories that will never die. Because the only permanent thing is change.

Darwin: survival of the fittest. Individuals most suited to the environment will survive and, given enough time, will evolve.

This theory has never been so apt. The pandemic has sped up our evolution. It has evolved people to become good or better. It has evolved society to adapt (community pantries, etc.) to status in life (extreme poverty, unemployment, lack of vaccine supply). It has evolved even the moneyed to think of new businesses (sustainable, renewable energy, eco-friendly concepts) and think of essentials and not excess.

Everyday we watch the news and hope to hear better news or developments. We hope for the best adaptation society can do. But what is certain is that we need to change. And unless we are able to adapt and evolve, natural selection will take place.

Thank you, Darwin. You have explained it well. Maybe we really needed this to happen so people will care for Mother Nature. So people will be kinder. And the idea of a better world may just happen sooner than later.

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