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Resilience is the ability to recover from disturbance. In Nature, resilience is achieved through diversity, decentralization, and redundancy. Nature makes sure there is more than one way to accomplish the same function, especially critical functions. Over the long term, life on Earth has lasted and biodiversity has increased because of life’s drive to try new things, test out new ideas, explore the unknown, work together, and learn from others. This is why resilience is a core element of both Life’s Principles and Nature’s Paradigm.
We all recognize the need for resilience, especially now as we’re increasingly feeling the impacts of climate change. Some have even argued that the term sustainability should be replaced with resilience. So if you’re a sustainability leader or biomimicry practitioner, you probably believe in, and believe you’re driven by, resilience.
I’m sure you’re also aware that polarization is detrimental to democracy as well as social and environmental sustainability. You know that compromise, collaboration, and co-creation are needed for us to successfully address the many interconnected challenges we face.
But in practice, how often have you really listened to the other side, to “them”? How often do you simply and totally resist “their” perspectives, their ideas, their proposals? You might go beyond resisting and add name-calling and insulting, if only at the radio.
We all know the importance of resilience, but more than likely our day-to-day actions and decisions are driven by resistance. We resist change, we resist ideas that we don’t understand, we resist following someone else’s process, we resist “them”.
Resistance is not all bad, of course, but it is a core element of our current dominant cultural paradigm — the Conventional Paradigm —that has led to the sustainability challenges we need to fix. Resistance feeds and is fed by the other elements of this paradigm: scarcity, individuality, competition, greed, and fear. It is not only keeping “them” from making the changes that “they” need to make, it is inhibiting our own ability to co-creatively imagine unknown alternative futures and the pathways that will get us there.
In Nature’s Paradigm — your Natural Paradigm — resilience feeds and is fed by other elements: abundance, systems, synergies, trust, and curiosity. If you find yourself driven by resistance, try pausing and reflecting for a moment, then try being curious about that which you’re resisting. Trust that there are good reasons that “they” may be thinking and acting the way they do. Know that you’re not alone, you’re not a victim, and that we — which includes “them” — can only imagine and create the resilient future that we want if we do it together.
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