On March 8, 2009, during the financial crisis that became known as the Great Recession, then Wachovia Corp. economist Mark Vitner described the world’s jumbled economies quite aptly: “It’s like trying to unscramble scrambled eggs. It just can’t be done that easily. I don’t know if it can be done at all,” he told CBS News.
These days, as the world struggles with disruptions to the global supply chain and vital commodities are stuck at sea for months, some pundits are suggesting that we do just that. But since 2009, economies have only become more entangled, and the idea of unbundling them has become even more unrealistic.
You cannot go against evolution, and evolution goes toward more complexity, not less. This is true at every level: the mineral, the biological, and the social. As a result, human society is becoming more complex and intertwined, and the economy, which is a reflection of human society, follows the same lane.
The reason we do not see such congestion and disruption in nature is that besides people, all other elements follow their instincts. The result is a harmonious flow, the cycle of life continuous uninterrupted and things evolve in synchrony with their environment.
Humanity functions in exactly the opposite way. We strive to rise above our environment, not in sync with it. We try to reach the top of the heap, to be faster, higher, and stronger than everyone else. When every country, company, and even person (to some degree) tries to do this, congestion occurs at the nodes, and everything gets stuck.
In other words, we are witnessing the result of our own self-centered attitude. If everyone had worked in harmony with the rest of human society, as every other element in nature does, there would have been no congestion and everyone would have gotten what they need, when they need it, and as much of it as they need.
Moreover, because we are competitive and derive satisfaction not from having what we need, but from having more than others, and even from denying others what they need, we cannot unravel our economies. Our desire to beat others binds us to them because their pain is our pleasure, and we cannot work without pleasure. To go it alone is to go against human nature, and we cannot do that, at least not in the long run.
If we are going to rationalize supply chains, we have to be clear about our interdependence. We need to start seeing ourselves as a unit, where the benefit of one is the benefit of all, and all parts contribute to the well-being of all other parts.
Our own bodies function in this way, every organism functions in this way. Without this approach, life would not be possible. When we act contrary to the fundamental element that makes life and development possible, we condemn our society to death and decay.
Once we recognize how nature works, how we work, and that it is in our best interest to change, we can stop disrupting the global economic system and begin to synchronize our actions. In simpler terms, we will be more considerate of each other.
Currently, we may not like the idea that we need to think of others and not just ourselves, but if we do not start teaching ourselves the truth today, global entanglement will worsen to the point that we will no longer be able to provide ourselves with the basic necessities for daily living.
Container ships wait off the coast of the congested Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in Long Beach, California, U.S., October 1, 2021. REUTERS/ Alan Devall