In Buckminster Fuller’s Universe tension is the great connector; it is the single force that binds everything including we humans. Because Bucky’s definition of integrity is that anything (person, thing, idea, etc.) with integrity holds its shape, tension is viewed as the one element / concept that holds anything and everything together. Or, at least, it keeps everything from flying / falling apart.
In other words, we really need tension in our lives and our reality in order for it to be somewhat coherent. Without the tension of gravity, planets would not orbit but would quickly fly away from one another. That is not to say that the companion of tension – compression - is not equally important. Tension, however, is the continuous aspect that provides continuity and maintains everything in relationship to other things be they objects, people, ideas or any other element of Universe.
Tension is also the feminine aspect of human relative, dualistic reality. Compression, on the other hand, is the masculine aspect. These two elements, like so many others in our dualistic reality, always and only coexist in perfect balance. Within a system (which must be perfectly balanced to exist), when either tension or compression becomes greater or more powerful, the system is instantly unstable and self-destructive. In other words, it no longer exists in its current form.
For example, there must be a perfect balance of tension and compression to keep a building from collapsing. In most modern buildings, the tension aspect is buried in the ground using an enormously heavy foundation. This is not necessary in Bucky’s geodesic dome where tension and compression are internally balanced in a perfect dance. However, we humans have been building structures primarily with compression for so long that we are generally unwilling to accept this radical shift in technology.
During an earthquake, the Earth shifts and the buried tension aspect of most buildings also moves and causes an imbalance. The result is the building taking an entirely new form that has a balance of tension and compression. That form is often a pile of rubble.
Tension is the key to the ongoing stability of any system be it a building or a species. Females are continuous while males are discontinuous. In other words, women give birth to women who give birth to women, etc. Men do not have such continuity. Although a man can pass along his genes to future generations, no man has ever given birth to another being.
For these and other reasons, Bucky contends that tension is the great integrity. Tension continues indefinitely to infinity and beyond, and it holds things together. One of the primary reasons we are seeing our culture and society disintegrating is that we now have an imbalance in which the feminine has not been honored and allowed her rightful place throughout most cultures. In a species dominated by the masculine, the system (human culture) must shift and change to create balance, and that is exactly what we are currently experiencing as infrastructures and cultures seemingly fall to pieces.
In reality, what is happening is the creation of an entirely new form, so different that most of us cannot distinguish it as an important new structure in which tension and compression, masculine and feminine, positive and negative are again perfectly balanced. Within that system we will find Bucky’s vision of “a world that works for everyone.”
May be recognize this new iteration soon and build our society and lives around it.