Death Valley, in Eastern California, is situated within the Mojave Desert. It is not only the lowest, driest and hottest location in North America but also one of the hottest spots on the entire planet. Most of the time Death Valley lives up to it’s name as it has all the appearance of a barren, inhospitable landscape hostile to life. Nevertheless, every few years – given that there is enough rain and the soaring temperatures hold back a little – Death Valley is carpeted in lush and beautiful wildflowers.
These flowers come from seeds that hide under the ground and protect themselves with a waxy coating when the conditions are hostile. When these seeds are concealed within their waxy armour, Death Valley not only looks barren but it gives absolutely no hint of the potential lying under the baked earth. But appearances are deceptive in this case (as in many others) as the potential does exist even though it’s not obvious and is simply lying dormant as it waits for the correct conditions it needs in order to flourish.
In any organic system if some elements are missing – in Death Valley that would be rain – then it is impossible for the system to achieve its potential. Human beings and the systems they create are not isolated, separate entities but rather complex, dynamic, inter-related, synergistic, organic systems. Just like those wax-coated seeds, as individuals – and societies – we have potential as yet unknown because we have never had an occasion when the conditions were correct for these latent qualities to flourish. If the correct environment for true human development could be achieved, who knows what beauty might be just waiting to erupt?