Re: Covid-19: how a virus is turning the world upside down
COVID-19 upside down world: holding it together with chaos, complexity and systems thinking.
I agree with the sentiments expressed in the insightful Editorial on how COVID-19 is turning the world upside down, destroying the world as we know it (1) and suggest another possible benefit - chaos, complexity and systems thinking emerging, and using this to hold it together.
The discussion reflected complex dynamics of the issues involved and systemic nature of the problems, lending itself to a systems approach to understand, map and sustain the change seen in the upside down world of COVID-19.
Bradley et al did this for the complex dynamics of COVID-19, with a causal loop diagram illustrating some of the interacting components in a society responding to the threat of COVID-19, with society itself seen as a complex system (2). In providing a systems approach to preventing and responding to COVID-19, he says that visualizing the system can help to change the structural connections to achieve goals, since system behavior is caused by system structure (2).
The authors also mention that the last time the world found courage for true solidarity was after a devastating war in 1945, and they hope that a global community will develop after COVID-19 to address issues of global health, climate change and widespread egregious disparities that leave our existence at risk (1).
Courage for true solidarity and global community we think developed after the Tsunami of 2004, with self-organizing emergence of global support and community described as Global Heart, and as an example of complexity, in a book “Tsunami Chaos Global Heart: using complexity science to rethink and make a better world,” available free online (3). This book also advocates for a complexity and systems approach for heart health, global health, climate change, reducing disparities, and similar complex global issues.
The COVID-19 pandemic is like a slow Tsunami creating chaos globally, destroying the world as we know it. There will invariably be global support, solidarity and community developing after COVID-19, which can be sustained using complexity and systems thinking. Mapping and visualizing the local and global causal and feedback loops and complex dynamic interactions varying in time, place and context, may help in achieving and sustaining this goal of global solidarity, community, and a healthier respect for the environment and our common humanity the authors seek.
Perhaps COVID-19 will turn the world upside down and lead to a complexity and systems approach to such global 21st century problems. This would be timely and appropriate, using 21st century science to solve 21st century problems, with Stephen Hawking says he thinks complexity will be the science for the 21st century (3,4) and the Santa Fe Institute, (founding home of chaos and complexity, with Lord Robert May a Past President and Scientific Advisor to the UK government), considering complexity the science for a complex world (4).
COVID-19 will destroy the world as we know it (1), but chaos, complexity and systems thinking can emerge in an upside down world, and can help hold it together.
1 Kickbusch I, Leung G, Bhutta Z, et al. Covid-19: how a virus is turning the world upside down. Ed. BMJ 2020;369:m1336 doi: 10.1136/bmj.m1336 (Published 3 April 2020) https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1336 accessed April 4, 2020.
2 Bradley DT, Mansouri MA, Kee F, et al. A Systems approach to preventing and responding to COVID-19. EClinical Medicine 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2020.100325 (accessed April 4, 2020)
3 Rambihar VS, Rambihar SP, Rambihar VS Jr. Tsunami Chaos and Global Heart: using complexity science to rethink and make a better world. 2005. Vashna Publications. Toronto, Canada. http://femmefractal.com/FinalwebTsunamiBK12207.pdf (accessed April 4, 2020).
4 What does complexity science tell us about COVID-19? Santa Fe Institute https://santafe.edu/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5MCK_LTR6AIVhp6zCh0G6gUEEAAYASAAE... (accessed April 4, 2020).
Competing interests: No competing interests