Ecological Resiliencing

imageResilience is not something one has or achieves as if it can be ‘engineered’. The idea that resilience can be ‘engineered’ is a nonsense. Resiliencing is an ongoing ecological state of social meaning, purpose and hope. One cannot talk about resilience without also discussing Hope. Coupled with the notion of hope is: faith (paradoxical certainty), trust, dreaming, the future and love. If anyone is talking about resilience and doesn’t discuss the nature and an Ethic of Hope they are just discussing the notion of wishing. A naïve wish is not Hope.

It is because of Hope that we have the energy to adapt and move forward. It is because of Hope, we press on sometimes against the evidence of ‘science’. It is because of Hope that we understand our social meaning as part of a moving ecology that hopes with us. Hope is always that tense expectation of what we hold in faith in what we have experienced. The history of the world, civilizations and the human race is a history of resiliencing.

Resiliencing is an active participle. If you are human and therefore fallible you are always resiliencing. And there is no resiliencing without an Ethic of Hope.

An Ethic of Hope has a ‘vision’ for what can be, even though there is little evidence to ‘prove’ such hope. This is why Hope is ecological and cannot be ‘engineered’. Engineering is a metaphor of mechanics and technique, humans are not mechanical and the world is random. Talk of an efficiency of resilience is nonsense. There is no discussion of an Ethic of Hope in the Hollnagel’s notion of Resilience Engineering or the AIHS BoK.

Having worked in community services for many years in suicide, grieving, self-harm and loss I can assure you, there are no formulas, mechanics or systems for resilience. Most times we do not know why some can move forward in the face of hopelessness and despair or why others don’t. What we do know is that hope is dependent on Socialitie. Socialitie is that ecological connection only felt in ‘meeting’, in the i-thou of knowing, not in content knowledge.

I have a young friend Sarah who was a heroin addict for 9 years, lived in abject poverty, was regularly sexually abused and assaulted and yet she hoped. We would often meet, chat and share in conversation about her situation. After 9 years and for some mysterious reason she was able to escape the addiction and is now with a partner, has given up the addiction, has a child and meaningful work. In Hindsight we can see the small steps that contributed to her recovery but it was no ‘bouncing back’. The notion of ‘bouncing back’ is not a notion I associate with Resiliencing. In the face of all that Sarah faced her hope doesn’t make sense, when in the face of all she carried, outsiders offered no hope.

Resilience is not something one can ‘organise’. Resiliencing doesn’t conform to some outsiders notion of systems. Resilience doesn’t develop because of some rational argument of projected narrative. There is no empirical evidence that gives fuel to Hope and Faith. Resiliencing steps forward in the face of fallibility and mortality knowing in Faith that sometimes our hopes are realized. Indeed, it is when we can move away from science and engineering that we best discover the ecology of resiliencing.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

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