Complex systems (and the one we have made for ourselves is bewilderingly so) exist in a state of dynamic equilibrium. Stable, but only so long as they remain dynamic.
Complex systems need energy and purpose. It looks as if the energy in our system came from lots of people moving around, spending money as they moved. Stop people moving around and the energy of the system dies. Think of a spinning top. Once the energy goes, the equilibrium is lost and the top falls over.
We live in a single inter-related, inter-dependent system. Humans do not exist separately from this system, we, albeit very numerous and influential, are but one part of a wider and inter-connected whole, on which we entirely depend. Evidence that the whole is in serious trouble has been there for all to see for a long time. So far we have ignored EF Schumacher’s prophetic warning that when we finally win our war with nature we will find ourselves on the losing side. Many other species have contracted viruses and other illnesses already. Many have died as a result.
Interesting that a threat to our health, a higher than usual probability of actually dying, has finally tipped the system out of ‘business as usual’. A malignant molecule creeping across the world. Our collective immune system running for cover, driving unprecedented responses before it.
Like Humpty Dumpty, our system is experiencing a great fall. Do we even want to put it together again? Here lies the opportunity to open up a new space in what it means to be part of a greater whole. Perhaps this episode will help us find our way to a new way of being, a better more sustainable way of living.
Now we can notice what emerges. No way to predict this, but it is going to be fascinating, even if this fascination is underpinned by a degree of naked fear. Already self-organisation is happening in myriad ways. New rules of the game are being written. Old assumptions are being tested, new ones being adopted, boundaries redrawn. Poems and messages of hope and reflection are circulating on social media. The internet is rediscovering its role for positive interaction.
The time is one for love and forgiveness, for gratitude, as we experiment our way forward. Our enforced isolation provides time to just be, for ideas and new perspectives to bubble up and take flight. There are many possible answers waiting to be revealed.
Perhaps too, we will rediscover our true place in the system, recognising ourselves as subservient to the planet, not the other way around.