Continuing the Conversation on Resilience

Last week we opened a discussion on the idea that “while resilience is critical for a system’s survival, in times of great instability, that same resilience can be problematic for the larger system(s) in which the resilient system is housed.” A vibrant conversation in the comments section has since ensued, the main themes of which are the hierarchy of systems, the management of systems, and the effects hierarchy and management have on our thinking. All three have import for when resilience should be prioritized and when it is counter-productive.

On hierarchy, commenter geoff explains that “we have a tendency to think of the human species as either a subsystem of the planetary ecosystem, or in the extreme, even as a separate system apart from nature. However, we are more strongly connected to and dependent upon (ideally local) sources of food, water and energy within our bioregion than we need to be dependent upon other humans living far away in a global economy.” Because our bioregions, social systems, and the planetary ecosystems are necessary for life, as geoff argues, David Korten says, “increasing the resilience of an invasive cancer [in a subsystem of the social system] is exactly the opposite of what we should be seeking… The Wall Street cancer needs to be removed and replaced with financial institutions rooted in and accountable to living Main Street economies that meet the needs of their human inhabitants in integral balanced partnership with their local ecosystems.” This required new way of thinking TedHowardNZ claims involves “going beyond monetary values.”