One of the great things about writing Ekostories is that I come across the musings of very thoughtful people within the blogging community. They often serve as the germs of inspiration for my own essays. While ruminating on the notion of resilience in individuals and cultures in last week’s Avatar: The Last Airbender piece, I came across an excellent essay, courtesy of Joyroots.com, that explores the idea of social resilience in great detail. While the piece is lengthy, the content is written in accessible language, brilliantly organized, and filled with thoughtful hypotheticals, historical anecdotes, and insightful visuals. Here are some of the excerpts:
Why is resilience so important?
While it’s nearly impossible to foresee and plan for every future event, there are attributes that can help a person or system to better adapt to any change, and find fulfillment in the vast range of circumstance that the world tends to offer. Because the impact of change on our lives often depends on the gap between our expectations and our reality, one could go so far as to say that lack of resilience is one of the key causes of suffering, whether starvation and disease in the wake of overtaxing the environment, or economic depression in the wake of over-sold debt.
On resilient individuals:
If a system momentarily weakens or breaks down, if the individuals within it are hardy, they can rebuild. A community of weak individuals, unable to provide for themselves or others, unskilled, unhealthy and unhappy, will always struggle, even with some of the other elements in place—but should the system that supports them falter, even for a moment, it cannot be rebuilt, because the people that are a part of it cannot live even a short while without it. A resilient community depends on the resilience of its members. More actively, a resilient community will foster it. Education, health, mobility—by giving these things to our neighbors, we ensure a stronger neighborhood for ourselves.
Resiliency versus efficiency:
Looking across these dynamics, it’s hard to ignore the sharp contrast between the contributors to social resilience and the values often prized in our modern system. Efficiency, optimization, specialization are often the buzzwords of the day. This is not idle theorization—these values are rapidly replacing more resilient forms of social life across the world, from villages in rural Africa and China to the close-knit towns of Europe and the US. None of these are easy questions—it may well be that the capabilities gained from technological innovation or the build-up of physical capital gives us a greater ability to respond to crises than they undermine via the system necessary to create them. In other words, a program of radical economic simplification started in the 50s likely never would have seen the birth of the internet, which may ultimately offset the damage inherent in its creation. Nevertheless, if we want to create resilient communities for ourselves and our children, understanding and prizing what contributes to that resilience (and what does not) is a good place to start. We may even find that a society that’s more resilient can be more beautiful too.
I encourage you to check the piece out in its entirety and think about resilience as it pertains to nature, culture, and self.