When Resilience Is The Only Option
Survival is at stake
In a previous article Poverty, Risk, and Happiness, I shared aspects about the poor and their management of risks in their day-to-day life. I follow this with my thoughts on resilience. In countries stricken by poverty, we hear of sentiments of being proud of the people’s “resilience”. This word gets thrown around a lot by people usually not in the same situation as those who are suffering.
While it brings about a nice, cosy feeling of solidarity, what it usually fails to consider is the lack of services from their government to give their citizens the option to not go through so much hardship in their lives.
Let’s take the annual monsoon season in some areas in Southeast Asia as an example to illustrate sentiments about resilience. For countries like the Philippines, being hit by a typhoon has also become an annual disaster. There are planning activities that take place however I am uncertain if the damage done to people and livelihoods are reduced over time, or whether the people just learn to live with such a pattern.
Every year, there are lives taken, hundreds of thousands of families displaced, and homes, buildings, and roads that are destroyed. Following news of grief and livelihood destruction, we usually hear offerings of words of encouragement such as “We are proud that our countrymen are resilient.”, typically followed by “Despite their hardships, they are still smiling.”
This message is temporary and lacking accountability, hence has almost no impact on the people hailed as resilient. For real impact to happen, it should be followed with actions geared towards a life where they have an option to not have to be ‘resilient’ just to survive.
Resilience is a poor substitute for social security.