What is a Crisis?
There isn’t almost any domain or entity that wouldn’t be affected by a “crisis”. From the subjective field to the objective zone, crisis affects both people and systems, unsettling individual, as well as collective wellbeing. If we investigate the original meaning of the Greek word krisis, we discover – to our surprise – that it has a positive sense: it means ‘opinion’ or ‘evaluation’ in a situation of changing conditions.
Instead, nowadays, we use the term in many disciplines (such as medicine, psychology, finance, economics or systemtheories) to indicate a problematic period of poor functionality which calls for a re-evaluation of fundamentals. A crisis marks an upheaval in a settled period of long duration. The Greek word krisis originated from the verb krinein, which means ‘to separate’ or ‘to distinguish’. Of course, in a moment of crisis we have to decide whether we choose the road that goes off to the right or off to the left. In order to be able to decide, we have to separate and to distinguish clearly the two alternatives. We can conclude that in reality the term “crisis” does not have such a negative meaning after all. On the contrary, any road with a fork in it provides an opportunity to choose a new direction, and justifies the definition of a new goal.
The word “crisis” has suffered the same fate as the words “problem” or “criticism”: from a neutral meaning to one with negative connotations. Yet the Chinese word for crisis – weiji can help us further: wei means ‘danger’ and ji is ‘opportunity’.
Therefore any crisis situation at the same time presents the possibility for something new: a new awareness, a new direction, a new system, new solutions, new vitality or new health.
How, then, to overcome a crisis? There is no need to overcome it. It should be enough to be recognizant of the strength of the shuddering upheaval, in order to analyze what’s wrong in the system, to change it and to come out of it all as if born anew.