By constructing global trade, we signed our global fate. Corona showed us how connected the world is: the globalised trade and travel had spread a global epidemic. Yet, pandemics aren’t the only potential risk, this global trade system puts us at other risks which we should face in order to be more resilient after Corona.
Be prepared for the worse, but hope for the best, is my credo. However, if you’re not prepared for the worse, you should not hope for the best; it is like walking blindfolded in a lion’s cave. This is no pessimism, it is realism. Who would jump out of a plane without a parachute, and a back-up parachute? Obviously, you hope not to have to use it, but would you take the risk?
However, after a while of having not faced any consequences of risks taken, people become too brave; hubris sets in and bigger and bigger risks are taken, like Icarus flew higher and higher to the sun. Until it is too late, and the fall is inevitable, realising they have no parachute to rely on, nothing to break or even slow down their fall.
Icarus takes us 2,000 years back in history, but recent history has shown the same.
Wasn’t the financial crisis of 2008 based on the implosion of the financial bubble created by the hubris of finance people, taking more and more risks with the money of people who relied on them? Until it all imploded and the entire financial system turned out to be nothing more than a virtual bubble, constructed by vain loans and vain promises.
Today, we see the vanity and potential implosion of the global trade system.
With stopping the influx of people in countries, the influx of trade and medical supplies came to a stop as well. This is one of the reasons why the World Health Organisation (WHO) advices not to close international boarders if unnecessary to fight the virus.
Whole at a sudden we realised how dependent our nations are on import and export, how certain supply chains dried up, aisles in supermarkets became empty, and businesses had to shut their doors. Business models based on global trade turned out to be particularly vulnerable, as well as countries relying on import and export to keep their economies and people alive.
History illustrated how this dependency can be mortal.
In his book Upheaval, Jared Diamond describes how the islanders of the Polynesian islands (Mangareva, Henderson, and Pitcairn) must have died of starvation once their trade system imploded. Living on infertile islands, made by them as such, or find by them, their lives were depending on the visits and trade of foreign islanders. However, fate set in and for some reason, the foreign islanders no longer reached the island. Waiting for supplies to come, watching the empty horizon day after day, they had sealed their fate.
These Polynesian islanders aren’t the only ones in history that signed their own fate by signing this kind of trade dependencies rather than investing in the own capacities.
Corona might have functioned as a wake-up call. It might have shown us how dangerous dependency can be; how vulnerable our globalised trade system is; how risky it can be to rely on trade partnerships; how vain it is to base business models on virtual growth and trade solely, and overlook local potential.
Moreover, with trade and medical supplies something else travels between countries; less tangible but more impactful: the influence of one country on another.
When countries need one another, they have power over one another. If a country needs another country to import the own produce and services, or if it needs another country to import produce and services it doesn’t have, this country becomes vulnerable to the geopolitical influence of the other country.
Economic sanctions, trade wars, trade embargoes, and boycotts, they all rely on this precarious principle: if a country doesn’t do what it is told to do, its economic position will be endangered. It was one of the reasons why the EU did not act upon certain crimes against humanity in Russia – which threatened to cut of European gas supplies – and was one of the reasons why the US stopped trading with Cuba – that hold on to communism rather than the US’ desire for capitalism – , and it is nowadays the reason why China poses an extreme tax increase on barley import out of Australia – which demanded independent research considering Covid-19.
Money makes the world go around. Money is as well what makes the world go in a dictated direction.
The same logic applies to companies, people, and communities that rely on one another. At personal level, it can be a bonus to incentivise good employee behaviour, while it can be a cut in salary for unwanted behaviour. It can be a supermarket dropping prices of a certain product to outcompete a competitor. Money makes the world go around, in the preferred direction. Money means power. If one relies on one source of money solely, one is subject to the power of this source.
In times of Corona in particular, and in crisis in general, it becomes clear how vulnerable we are by relying on unreliable sources at one hand, or precarious relationships on the other hand. If we are cut off the world, we have to be able to rely on ourselves; if we are connected with the world, we have to be able to counter the power of others, so we aren’t the defenceless prey of surrounding predators.
This preparation starts today, for the crisis of tomorrow.
By all means we have to prevent dependency. At one hand we have to invest in the local economy, on which I write more in the next chapter; at the other hand, we have to rely on more than one relationship. We have to keep competition open and transparent, so we are not subjected to the power of one.
As with everything in life, and as described various times before, resilience is about behaving like a set of interconnected barrels, rather than putting all eggs in one basket. If one relationship dries up or turns out to be unsustainable or not beneficial, we need other relationships to invest more in. One of those barrels is the local economy, the own potential, the local people and the local production and consumption.
Start today preparing for tomorrow by creating other barrels, so you can withdraw and have a back-up to go to, when one implodes or explodes. This will make you empowered for the next crisis to come, for the next dispute to come, for the next challenge to come.
This article is part of the series of Hope in Times of Corona. Read
- How this too shall pass
- how this times of self-isolation should not mean loneliness,
- how you can contribute to this battle,
- how gratitude lights up the dark,
- how united we will stand strong
- on the most util strategy in awake of a crisis
- how I got blown of my feet as well, but caught by many caring hands,
- how being calm can get us through the storm.
- about Love in Times of Corona
- how to discover your own talents
- why we need stories to hold on to
- how you can be creative and innovative.
- how to spend your mot valuable assets in times of Corona.
- how to listen to the sound of silence.
- How breath taking Corona really is.
- discover the other freedoms Corona has shown us,
- about the new-born freedom Corona gave us.
- about another way to exceed your personal bubble.
- about the position of nature in this entire story
- about nature bouncing back
- about the crucial choice between resilience and resistance
- about the game to play
- about star gazing in dark times
- About looking for Meaning
- About how Music Connects
- about what Easter and Corona have in Common
- About the Shark and the Turtle
- About the Irony of Distance
- Why to Hold on
- Fake News
- about The Big Unknown we live at
- about Feeling Alive
- About turning obstacles into opportunities
- about what the Birthday of my nephew learned me about life
- About where we should go from here?
- About coping with incertitude
- About the Great War and the Great Pandemic, and we should not forget
- about history’s most important message, echoed by corona
- How one country could rule them all
- About how to prevent the next Green Pandemic
- about how we are experiencing a new episode of our history books
- about when the poppy flowers
- about what’s in a number
- masks off, how a friend in need is a friend indeed
- What’s Next. after we flattened the curve?
- how will our personal story look like in a post-corona world?
- why we should never let a good crisis go too waste.
- How Spring can happen in Autumn
- How to unlock the lockdown
- Why education matters
- How we can give meaning to the meaningless deaths. (rethink health care)
- The remarkable marketability of health, or not?
- the remarkable rewards of health
- The queeste for global health care
- Health Heroes
- Pains and Gains
- Solidarity 3.0
- Work-Life Balance
- Home sweet home
- Real Connections
- Leadership 3.0
- gratitude 3.0
- Respect 3.0
- Humanity 3.0
- Change Management
- Economic Catharsis
- To consume or not to consume?
- Travel the world, travel your heart
- Barrels of Life
- People, no Number Management
- Back to the Office?
- Those jobs …
- Economic Growth or Green Growth
Or wait until tomorrow, when I’ll shine another light on yet another positive corner of this dark time.