by CSW Director Rob Field

            

I heard recently that some people are calling 2024 “The Year of Resiliency.” This got me thinking.

First, let me say I get it. There’s a lot coming at us that won’t be in our control, so the smart money is on cultivating resiliency. If we can’t do anything to stop systemic changes that might be headed our way, we need to develop the ability to withstand them. For example, if I knew a deadly hurricane was taking aim at my home, I would be the first person to quickly shore up my doors, windows, and roof.

That said, you and I are not structures made of wood, stone, or metal. We’re human beings with souls, hearts, bodies, and intellects. The metaphor comparing humans to buildings starts to break down when you consider how different a person is, compared to a house.

The deeper truth is that humans — and all other living beings — are fragile and vulnerable. When a big change in the weather or the economy or governmental leadership takes aim at a specific region, group of people, or human right, any one of us could be the next to suffer. You might have all the money in the world, but when big changes arrive, wealth can’t offer lasting protection. We’re all together in the same planetary boat.

Before we all jump on the resiliency bandwagon, what if we paused to remember how vulnerable we are, and how brief life is? Instead of scrambling to arm ourselves with whatever promises to make us feel better about the changes coming our way, what if we first leaned into the fragile nature of our existence? What if we looked each other in the eye and reminded ourselves there really is no such thing as 100% safety or invulnerability? What if, along with author Brené Brown, we started to think of vulnerbility as something positive, instead of something we should hide?

Here’s what I do know: all the great spiritual traditions tell me that every being in the universe, including our planet, needs protection from the uncertainty of systemic change. Identifying “enemies” and circling the wagons with people who look and think like us cannot deliver the peace or contentment we seek. The only thing that will make us truly resilient is a widespread recognition that we are part of each other, that we’re all vulnerable, and that we must rely on each other to survive and thrive.