If you’re wondering what theme holds all these different posts into some sort of theme, see my first post. Truth is, some posts are just random, but here is where the title came from.
What is resilience?
In an ecological, psychological, and organizational context, resilience is the ability to cope and adapt to catastrophic change.
So what’s the catastrophe change?
Modern life. I define catastrophe as an event that fundamentally changes the system in question. Catastrophes are usually bad, but not necessarily. I’m not saying modernity is a bad thing, I’m just saying we don’t fully understand how these changes affect our environment, societies, minds, and bodies. Look around. The climate is changing. Lots of people are depressed. Millions are dying of too much food while millions of other people are dying of hunger. We’ve got everyone trying to sell us everything, while half of the world lives in poverty. It’s a weird, confusing time because we are still dealing with fall-out from the agricultural, industrial, and information revolutions. That’s 3 catastrophic changes stacked on top of each other!
It’s a play on the title of Emerson’s essay, which was sitting on my desk as I was trying to think of a blog title. It struck me how futile self-reliance is, since we are immersed in such complicated, inter-dependent systems. Yet we need to take some responsibility for our own well-being and understand how modern life can undermine our vitality and happiness. That’s the paradox. Resilience is adapting to change. Self-resilience is taking individual responsibility for that change, without sliding into the greedy, disconnected, individualistic philosophy which helped get us here in the first place.
What are you drawing from? What are your paradigms?
Individuals are inter-dependent systems. We are made of systems, we belong to systems. The definition of individual systems is arbitrary, but it’s a powerful and important exercise. We have to start somewhere.
Perhaps we should start with health. It also helps to have a paradigm. I’m using evolution. Right now I’m really interested in evolutionary models of nutrition, fitness, and psychology.
The evolutionary paradigm also works for explaining how the modern world works (or doesn’t work as the case may be). Take a look at Desmond Morris, which I just picked up a few months ago.
I realize that focusing on health and fitness will get me only so far though. We’re animals living in a modern, highly abstract world. We’re also spiritual and social animals. We need some way of developing some harmony between the body and various parts of the mind. That’s where my interest in psychology comes from. Enter mindfulness, meditation, and just about every spiritual tradition and philosophy. We need a way to be creative, which for me means writing, research, and playing the guitar poorly. We also need meaning. Meaningful work, meaningful relationships, and a world-view that makes some sense across all the domains of life. Spirituality, religion, or a practiced philosophy does that, which is why they are so useful.
I also know we need to work on individual resilience and community resilience in parallel. They feed off each other and are indivisable. Thus my interest in sustainability and sociology.
So there you have it, I’ve justified writing on about any topic while connecting it to the greater theme. Sweet.