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"OH WATERS, TEEM WITH MEDICINE TO KEEP MY BODY SAFE FROM HARM, SO THAT I MAY LONG SEE THE SUN." - Rig Veda
I believe it’s no wonder that our world is in trouble. We currently lack the global systems science needed to understand our world, which is now changing more quickly than we can collect the experience required to cope with upcoming problems. We can also not trust our intuition, since the complex systems we have created behave often in surprising, counter-intuitive ways. Frequently, their properties are not determined by their components, but their interactions. Therefore, a strongly coupled world behaves fundamentally different from a weakly coupled world with independent decision-makers. Strong interactions tend to make the system uncontrollable – they create cascading effects and extreme events.
As a consequence of the transition to a more and more strongly coupled world, we need to revisit the underlying assumptions of the currently prevailing economic thinking. In the following, I will discuss 10 widespread assertions, which would work in a perfect economic world with representative agents and uncorrelated decisions, where heterogeneity, decision errors, and time scales do not matter. However, they are apparently not well enough suited to depict the strongly interdependent, diverse, and quickly changing world, we are facing, and this has important implications. Therefore, we need to ‘think out of the box’ and require a paradigm shift towards a new economic thinking characterized by a systemic, interaction-oriented perspective inspired by knowledge about complex, ecological, and social systems. As Albert Einstein noted, long-standing problems are rarely solved within the dominating paradigm. However, a new perspective on old problems may enable new mitigation strategies.
I stock sugar in my nightstand and still I fear
sleep. I fear my sugar will drop to a drip
in my brain, barely enough to make it run,
to make sweat bead across my forehead,
to make me incomprehensible, inconsolable,
a pillow amongst pillows, a mass of mess,
because what is a body that no longer wants.
In sleep, my body wants to remain
my body, wants to get up, raise the curtains,
watch the trash truck track a trail of newspapers
around the corner, out of the neighborhood,
and into the mountains people here believe
we came from—the back of one dark well.
Rise, our first bodies said, out of bed,
but sometimes mine will not. Sometimes
it must be my daughter who shakes me enough
to open the lid of my life and eat
the round raspberry or strawberry or grape tabs
that dissolve on my tongue like absolutions.
What is a body that doesn’t rise, what is a daughter
to do but wait by the bed, go downstairs, pour
Cheerios, grab a coloring book and draw
square upon square until it becomes a house
with a tree out front, a long driveway,
a basketball hoop, a light shining from the upstairs
bedroom, which must mean in any world
someone is awake.