THE BLOG
05/08/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Humanity And Resilience Theory

I've been thinking a lot about the future of humankind on our planet lately. Nothing special has triggered it, except maybe more than 50 years of life on Earth.

Historically, there have been all sorts of be-all end-all circumstances. Now we face climate change, the ends of institutions, a new kind of economy. No one really knows how all these things will pan out.

There are the doom-mongers who say that nothing is going to work out. Based on what, I wonder. There are the optimists, those on the side of hope, who say things will work out.

Fortunately, I found an article that put my wonderings into a workable context. Did you know that there is a thing known as Resilience Theory? I didn't, except insofar as it is my own personal experience. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the article:

"Resilience theory, first introduced by Canadian ecologist C.S. 'Buzz' Holling in 1973, begins with two radical premises. The first is that humans and nature are strongly coupled and co-evolving, and should therefore be conceived of as one 'social-ecological' system. The second is that the long-held assumption that systems respond to change in a linear, predictable fashion is simply wrong. According to resilience thinking, systems are in constant flux; they are highly unpredictable and self-organizing, with feedbacks across time and space. In the jargon of theorists, they are complex adaptive systems, exhibiting the hallmarks of complexity."

It's no surprise that humans and nature are intertwined and evolve together. How could we not? Nor is it startling that systems evolve in a non-linear path. Human/Nature is in constant flux. In fact, the only constant is flux.

So why all the lamenting and gnashing of teeth? Humanity and Earth have been where we currently are before, to wit, living with insoluble problems. Consider The Plague. Consider HIV/AIDS. Consider the Great Depression. Consider any war you like. They all share one reality: we didn't know how things would work out. But they did.

Resilience theory made me smile. The OED says it comes from Latin roots meaning to jump back. A better word might be rebound. Resilience is bounce-back-ability. We have this experience in our own lives. Something dreadful happens. A death. A divorce. A catastrophic illness. Or just a grave disappointment. Resilience is what makes us capable of bouncing back. Do we know how we do it? Not usually. Usually, we notice that we have bounced back, and only then do we turn back and figure out how. Daily life takes over. It goes on. We go with it.

So sure, we have no idea how we're going to solve the climate crisis, or the terrorist insanity on the planet right now. Nor do we know how the economic teeteriness will end. But will they? I think so. You see, humans, the spirits/souls/bodies that inhabit the planet are resilient, and so is the planet. I read this week that the earthquake in Chile actually made the Earth safer for the next earthquake. Who knew?

There is a wonderful story told about a little girl who is bugging her father whilst he is trying to read the newspaper. Finally, at his wit's end, he tears off a page of the paper bearing the image of the planet and tells her it's a puzzle which she must put together. She's back in his lap in two minutes. "How did you do that so fast?" he asks, astounded, annoyed and proud of her all at the same time. "Well, Papa, there was a person on the other side. I put the person together and the Earth took care of itself."

Take care of your own precious self, dear one, not in a selfish way, but in a conscious way. Do unto yourself, then do unto others in the same spirit of generosity, and resilience will do the rest.

For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso's website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. Follow her on Twitter @PeaceCorso and Friend her on Facebook.