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The Complexity of 21st Century Health Care

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Conclusions

In conclusion we turn to an insight offered by William Shakespeare. Specifically, we are reminded of Iago’s use of innuendo to destroy the lives of three people. Shakespeare has him compare his actions to pouring pestilence in his ear (using a pandemic metaphor no less):

“I’ll pour this pestilence into his ear:

That she repeals him for her body’s lust,

And by how much she strives to do him good,

She shall undo her credit with the Moor.

So will I turn her virtue into pitch,

And out of her own goodness make the net

That shall enmesh them all.”

As the internet allows the minds of many to be “infected” by ideas in an instant, airflight now allows the lives of many to be infected by viruses in a matter of weeks. This is part of the VUCA Plus/ COVID-challenged world we have described. Technology advances lead to new and unexpected exponential changes that we will not catch up with for decades. As the creator of COVID as a disruptor, Mother Nature is sitting back (actually continually reinventing COVID) to see if this technology will be of any assistance. Ironically (at least on the surface), we are re-experiencing Biblical events. Fundamentalists have the first answers in simple terms for us—through their prism of making puzzles out of problems, dilemmas, polarities—and even mysteries. We suspect that Mother Nature is amazed that we are not even moving forward but are instead regressing to a more primitive state of analysis and cure.

Unfortunately, many of the fundamentalists are not really reading (or at least not understanding) the holy scriptures. The Biblical authors have constantly and repeatedly reminded us that our world is mostly a mystery. As mere human beings, we must live with an ignorance of this mystery (called “life”). It is for us to appreciate the complexity that swirls around this mystery and to learn how to dance with the many ways the fundamental mystery is manifest. As leaders in health care systems, and as providers of health care services, we must remain humble and agile. We must be eager life-long learners—for our mysterious world does continue to reveal something about the nature and purpose of life. We only need to be open to and patient in receiving these lessons.

Afterword: Mother Nature Teaches Us/Can We Learn?

Having finished writing this essay, we find ourselves imagining that Mother Nature (though COVID) has done some of the writing. Mother Nature sees that we in the health care community are very advanced and adaptive (creating effective vaccines in a blink of an eye) and communicating across the world in an instant. However, Mother Nature also sees (and takes careful notes) on the tendency of our health care community to regress back to fundamentalist explanations of our traumatic experiences of COVID. We find false certainty in our view of COVID–in pursuit of false comforts and reduced anxiety.

When faced with the multi-tiered challenges of COVID, we find ourselves, as members of the health care community, being forced out of this comfort zone. We are thrown into a very uncomfortable and exhausting worldwide cognitive dissonance: we want to believe that we are knowledge about and competent in treating COVID—yet find ourselves ignorant and ineffective. Somehow, we must move past this dissonance by accepting our very human need to be of two-conflicting-minds.

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