This is something, that I wished, my parents had told me earlier about. Anyway, it is never too late, until it’s too late, we all know that. So here we go. Let’s explore something really crucial in life: The idea of balance as something positive. For me balance is like an optimal relationship between two or more integral parts of a whole. Aren’t these various parts constituting a whole, although distinctly different and potentially antagonistic, even meant to relate to each other in such a good way that they can make the magic of life happen?
From the superbly balanced double helix structure of DNA to the perfectly adjusted regulatory pathways of membranes in cell metabolism. From the complementary functions of sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves to the homeostasis and equilibria of market economies and social systems. Isn’t science full of theories that suggest balance as key to forming life and enabling sustainable growth? Yes, and so is ancient native wisdom! The indigenous Hopi (Koyaanisqatsi) and Yanomami people (Sickness of the Sky), for instance, are two popular examples of tribal communities that have issued warnings to the so-called civilized world: Do not take more from mother earth than she is prepared to give and forgive! Would the world be a better place today, had it not neglected the wisdom of balance for too long? I think so.
Generally speaking, balanced and equitable societies would have not left it entirely up to the free markets to generate wealth and stability. If they had kept an eye on balance as something to strive for, they would have at least created instruments to regulate and intervene as soon as the market failed to secure wellbeing for everyone.
More specifically, on the backdrop of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, it seems utterly unbalanced of industrial nations to outsource the production of vital pharmaceutical compounds, ICU equipment and protective gear relying on global trade markets to ensure sufficient supply, if demand rose. After the world financial crisis 2008, wise administrators would have not allowed banks to continue trading highly risky products without protecting the tax payer against the next major bail out of something too big to fail. Now, that our world has been thrown off balance again, politicians are faced with difficult decisions that require them to carefully weigh up the benefits and downsides of different responses. It’s so interesting how under the impact of a crisis everyone is required to take a stance. What is the best balance between the need to contain the spreading of the virus and the need to keep the economy running? What is the best balance between reducing the risk of contagion and the need for engaging in meaningful activities incompatible with self-isolation? Probably, it’s good to ask these questions, even if answers don’t come easy. By challenging extreme statements and questioning disproportionate measures, however, we must oppose leaders who tend to ignore wisdom. I remember UK’s PM Boris Johnson speculating about the need to keep going until herd immunity was reached. That was before he fell sick with the virus and received intensive care himself. Or I think of US President Donald Trump who tried to hypnotize the American public by playing the potent prophet: ‘It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle – it will disappear’, he said. That miracle, of course, never happened. In fact, the list is long. It also has Jair Bolsonaro‘s complete denial strategy on it as well as Wladimir Putin’s systematic disempowerment of state Governors followed by throwing back all responsibility at them as soon as the difficult-to-control pandemic started to threaten the reputation of his central government.
So, what do successful leaders do differently? Are they better at balancing the required amount of determination to enforce necessary measures against concerns that exactly those measures could pave the way to the creation of a police state? Are they equally adamant about the necessity of tracing infection chains as they are about the need for secure data protection? Can they give us hope for post-pandemic times without nurturing the illusion of a likely return to the same place where the world was before COVID-19 appeared on the radar? It seems there are at least some leaders that do a pretty good job at balancing the many antagonistic needs surfacing right now. Their secret? Impose as much as necessary and as little as possible! Let’s see, if more balanced approaches to crisis management will be really superior in helping us surviving and thriving from the pandemic. The wise investment specialist usually recommends diverse portfolios. However, in this case, I prefer to be extreme. I bet everything I have on balance as the final winner! What would be your best bet?