Opinion

Togetherness is key in shaping our resiliency | Guest Column | Dec. 10

The adjective resilient shows up a lot in this still new millennium. Yes! Magazine explored it as the main theme of its fall issue, and with good reason. The vision of “a resilient way of life” stirs us in personal and group settings, both locally and globally.

It means “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions,” which accurately makes it a reactive skill.

Some, however, would therefore diminish it as unhelpfully negative. But the word itself – along with its related nouns, resilience and resiliency – is a meaningfully useful virtue because it has an even larger, more proactive and encouraging foundation.

Being resilient is not just a bounce-back or oppositional response to a particular external force. It is also an ongoing quality of internal strength and hardiness, producing a supple capacity for prospering amid whatever “difficult conditions” might emerge. It is an overarching practice, a “way of life,” both individually and together.

Look around you these days. You might notice – or be part of – very useful collaboration among neighbors.

Many of us strive, for instance, to more efficiently conserve energy and/or re-learn some of the practical household skills that got obscured in recent generations, such as canning fruits and vegetables. (I recently found out how simple it is to dry apple slices!)

Certainly, we want to improve our “emergency preparedness” – an obvious gauge of resilience, as encouraged by the city and various collaborative agencies. But we’re also championing our local farms as well – a decidedly proactive effort, featuring, for instance, luscious tables of farm offerings right at the ferry.

And while attention may be escalating in this sphere, it’s not altogether a new or trendy approach to modern living.

There are evidently over 200 nonprofit organizations on Bainbridge Island alone, and I venture to say that many, if not most of them are and have been engaged in some manner of improving our community’s resilience.

Individual threads are unique and focused, of course, but the net effect is a strengthening of the fabric that weaves us into a dynamic whole.

And yes, Bainbridge Island as a functioning community is still less than effectively resilient, as vividly demonstrated by how vulnerable our municipality has been to the economic downturn, or by our apparent inability to keep afloat the small but vibrant liveaboard sector in Eagle Harbor.

And very soon we will face the challenge of supporting our Winslow businesses during major infrastructure work that will disrupt their work environments and clientele. That will also show us how resilient we are.

It’s always something. Previous generations had their issues and succeeding ones will have theirs. So we rise to the occasion and marshal resources to find the most suitable path forward, again and again. This is the resilient way of life. We respond to adversity with courage and we advance forward intelligently.

But, as is frequently the case, how we proceed can matter even more than specific demands. The general attitudes and relationships we cultivate tell us a lot about ourselves.

I believe that together we can continue to discover inspiring affinities of purpose and perseverance, a friendly process that builds community and also aims our collective sights higher.

For a secure (read: sustainable) future, our essential cultural muscle tone that responds to “difficult conditions” must find greater balance with a complementary strength of innovative foresight.

It’s not either/or, but what I like to call a “both/andian” path, one that calls out for the noble practice of cooperation on a scale never before seen or attempted, as we all navigate the formidable eddies of this voyage.

It will indeed test the degree of resilience we are able to build among ourselves, locally and globally, individually and collectively. Our way of life is evolving apace. For an uplifting exercise, notice and expand how you and yours are resiliently interconnected.

Rev. Jaco ten Hove is on the Steering Committee for Positive Energy, a part of Sustainable Bainbridge, and is co-minister at Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church

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