Contemplating Complex Adaptive Systems

Lessons from Covid19 - Part 6

The disciples had time to contemplate events leading to the Resurrection, the Ascension, the arrival of Pentecost, and the birth of the Church. Perhaps watching the unfolding of many desired and undesired events during the Covid-19 shutdown is a time for us to contemplate our personal, healthcare, societal and economic realities as complex adaptive systems.

In normal times, our days may start with simple activities, like following a usual route to work. Our job may be part of a complicated process, such as helping to assemble airplanes, which have many parts that operate in predictable ways in order for the plane to fly. 

We may then return to our households in the evening, which may include simple and complicated activities, but with added complexity. Complexity refers to the interrelated relationships among family members which do not have predictable outcomes. 

Such as when we see our children grow and develop in interactions with each other. Also in interaction with their peers, educational systems, the career paths and opportunities that appear, the political mood, economy, and environment of the day, all within their developing worldviews.

So, contemplating a unifying organizational structure as a platform for the interplay of complex interdependent systems including healthcare, the economy, viruses and pandemics, brings us back to the complexity that underlies much of life. 

To navigate life we need a level of foundational stability to ground ourselves in order to adapt to the unpredictable complexities of life. A “True North”, so to speak. 

This duality of life is woven through Scripture;

Starting with :

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” ( Ps 139:16), 

This seems to imply a somewhat predetermined course to our lives.

Yet throughout our lives we are reminded that;

 “Being confident in this, that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it..”( Phil 1:6)

And also that; 

 “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ( Romans 8:28)

These assurances are tempered with God’s proviso that; 

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  (Romans 9:15)

With 7.8 billion of us on the planet, all with varying degrees of agency (our capacity to act independently and to make our own free choices), God has allowed us to participate in the outcome. So it will help our awareness if we understand the complexities of life, and our constant push to adapt. 

This leads us to the topic of wisdom, or a framework from which to make wise choices in a our rapidly changing personal world, and the wider world in which “we live, move, and have our being” (Acts17:28)

If we did not have to make choices, the whole book of Proverbs would be unnecessary.

 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” ( Prov 1:7)

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom .” ( Prov 9:10)

This fear means our respect for God , His nature, and his creation, and wisdom as the proper application of knowledge.

Science, coming from a Latin word “to know”, is a starting point.

But the greater designation for a scientist is the doctor of philosophy title (Ph.D), meaning “doctor of the love of wisdom.” 

“Get wisdom , get understanding; Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you: Love her, and she will watch over you.” ( Prov 4 :5,6)

This is personal for me as my wife’s name is Sophie, or wisdom!

It has been said that “with wisdom comes the desire for simplicity” (Brendon Burchard).

Our forebears noted this also:

“The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple”

Albert Einstein

“Out of intense complexities intense simplicities emerge”

Winston Churchill

And as we look next to comparing organizational structure in the Old and New Testaments, and how scripture directs us towards the best organizational model for our day, I conclude reminding myself to keep it simple. To remember the goal: to discover an adaptive system to help us survive this changing world.

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