12/18/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Crisis = Disaster + Opportunity: Yin And Yang, And What China Knows About The Economy

I was speaking to a Chinese acquaintance the other day who has spent much of her adult life in San Francisco, is married to an American, yet finds herself these days missing the China that once was and is fast disappearing. They are becoming like us. And the solidarity that was there when she was younger is disappearing into capitalism. Perhaps the good news is that we Americans will become perhaps a little less "turbo-capitalistic" and find a little more solidarity.

She told me something very interesting which is that the written word or stele for the word "Crisis" in Mandarin is actually the combination of the words "disaster" and "opportunity". Because in China, it is about the yin and yang and the balancing of each. Crisis creates disasters and offers opportunities. So as we live through this horrible crisis, why don't we take time to focus on all of the opportunities we have.

We are at a historical moment in our economic history when things will be able to change as they never have before in our lifetimes. And we can start a more sustainable economy from scratch. We don't have to give into excess this time. Let's make it about balance.

If you read French (someone should translate this book asap!) I encourage you to find the book, Inventer Une economie Yin Et Yang: Temoignage D'une Femme De Terrain Pour Un Monde plus Juste by Marianne de Boisredon, it is about how male and female (the yin and yang) in our world's economy needs to be balanced in order to create a more just world. This includes ideas such as Muhammad Yunus' banks for the poor, microloans and social businesses. Marianne de Boisredon worked in Chile with the first microcredit bank there, helping mostly women, very poor women in the slums, to get access to credit to create small businesses.

This lack of balance is why we need more women involved in leading the world's economy. There is simply too much of a male-focused approach and it is not working! Microcredit, which is female-focused, is working! It takes into consideration the social and human aspects as well as simply profits. In fact, profits can be things which help humans, better nutrition or health care or clean water not just money!

I am no supporter of pure anything economically, not pure capitalism and definitely not pure communism, but one subject which we never discuss in the United States is how to truly balance our economy in the human sense. We let the President and his cronies overspend on a war which kills humans (sorry but that is a male-linked thing... most women are very anti-war) and somehow that is fine, but spending that amount of programs we actually need and which save human lives (health care for all) is considered so socialist people think we are becoming French!

Perhaps some of those private banker and hedge fund billionaires in the U.S. who are now seen around with brilliant Chinese women on their arm are learning about balance. Let's hope so. We need much more Yin. Because all that Yang is killing us.