The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Crisis and fear

As Seth Godin described in a blog post on “the useful crisis”, there are actual crisis and constructed crisis.

A crisis is there to focus everyone’s attention on one thing, distracting from the rest of the ongoing events. In essence, they are easy to be exploited.

The useful part of a crisis is there when it helps to solve existing problems. The question remains if the problem it solves is the actual problem, or whose problem it is that is being solved. After a while, the question becomes if it still is the problem that needs to get the most attention.

When Dresden was bombed in 1945, saving people, extinguishing fires, securing whatever was possible was the only thing worth attending to on the ground. It took the German reunification to think about rebuilding the Dresden Frauenkirche. It was re-opened in 2005.

It takes time to deal with the effects of crisis.

The remnants of the Frauenkirche waited where they had burned down until someone decided to care.

In most of the European countries, the current pandemic is looked at from the point of view of securing hospital capacity in a period during which the virus is being spread at an exponential pace through contact. This is balanced with the effort to secure some economic sustainability.

Both of these problems are in the focus of those governing us.

And yes, there are reasons for this. Securing the infrastructure belongs to the core tasks of governance.

In most countries, the main solution used to dissuade people from having physical contact with others is fear. We thus find ourselves within a set of rules being enforced through a variety of threats.

That is the space that becomes questionable. There are many forces active in law enforcement, within these, there are all those who build up group pressure, like media and people like us. And yes, there is tension between those who want strict rules and those who want flexible rules.

But the more they focus on the named problems of hospital availability and the economy, the less headspace they have for themselves. It makes it difficult for them to focus on the problems they have to attend to. Those are the issues that are within their responsibility: their health and wellbeing.

It involves paying attention to how they are affected personally by the pandemic and caring for themselves. This is as important as avoiding spreading or receiving the virus.

Better do this now than in 60 years.


The Dresden Frauenkirche and a statue of Martin Luther – Some stones are black from the fire when the church burned down. Tremendous efforts have been undertaken to reuse original material where they had been located before the fire.

Share this post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *