The Anatomy of Resilience

Ariaa Jaeger Photography — Greece

We wander through the streets of life, navigating its already difficult terrain, in a world where we see atrocities beyond our comprehension. We witness the carnage of terrorist acts, both domestic and foreign and the ignorance of men who make war from their indifference, instead of building on their commonalities. We bleed and then we rise.

We take note of those without a soul, those who are able to so cavalierly take life in the most horrific ways, unable to relate to an iota of what compels them. We break it down, the talking heads and experts banter it ad nauseum, until another news story overshadows it. We bleed and then we rise.

We get angry that the politicians are so far removed from any reason or form of commonsensical thinking, it is impossible to imagine how they sleep at night. We can’t image how we got here, electing those who are for the most part, incompetent, ineffectual or morally bankrupt. Then year after year, we re-elect them. We bleed and then we rise.

We send thoughts and prayers to the families and loved ones after every maniacal and senseless shooting, while the nation holds moments of silence in memory of the victims. We think we are doing something worthwhile, when in fact with every act of violence, it becomes so trite.

We witness history as America’s policymakers wage a sit in on the House floor, in protest to nothing being done once again with regards to the gun laws. We feel helpless and powerless, as if we are the only people with any reason or common sense. When mass shootings happen in America, we think, this is the one which will cause the policymakers to act; Las Vegas, Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Orlando and so many more. But not even the savage slaughter of 6 year old babies was enough, to persuade those in seats of power, to make severely needed changes to the assault weapons laws. We pour our hearts into hope, into believing that most are like us; decent, loving, kind with a conscience that runs as deep as the ocean and are forlorn to encounter those whose hearts are made of steel and stone We bleed and then we rise.

We gather together, those who are agents of change, who passionately work to transform the transformable, to dilute that which is not and to minimize that which casts a dark shadow on the whole. We educate, we contemplate, we assimilate, we mentally masturbate, we meditate, we pray, we walk the talk, we talk the walk, and beleaguered we hem and haw. We bleed and then we rise.

But we rise every time. Through every valley we have climbed up the steepened hills, through every desert in the worst of humanities drought, our thirst has been quenched. Over every ocean and high tide, we have reached the shore. And on top of every mountain, have we beheld the promised land of hope.

We are tested, strong and resilient and we have come so far, yet have so much farther to go.

Change has come, often slowly like a snail, dragging the ghost of ignorance past along the trail of those who are unmolested by enlightenment.

The tide is turning in favor of love, of kindness, of tolerance, of full acceptance that love is love, humans are beautiful, evil is temporal and darkness, is but a shadow cast to tease the light and to tempt its ability to expand. With every major news headline, we draw closer to one another and the world is, for a brief moment in time, united. With the frequency of so many events occurring, those moments grow closer together and each time the fabric of love and compassion takes on a deeper weave, intricately melding into a more lasting fiber.

While angry and heartbroken citizens contend with the reality that little to nothing is ever done after bombings and mass shootings, while they become disenchanted with systems that contribute to or even enable terrorism, the conversation DOES expand and new ideas to combat and minimize events like these are born. As a nation, as a world, as humanity endures the consequence of its own creation and the lessons we learn which evolve the gene pool and society as a whole, we rise, we grow and we evolve.

It has been only 52 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, only 47 years since the start of the gay rights movement and only 15 years since the darkest days in modern times visited us on September 11, 2001. Yet in just that short time, we as a society have changed in some very positive ways.

We have evolved to include equal rights for all humans, (with one critical exception, equal pay for women) and for animals too but have yet to see every country in the world embrace such reason. We have seen a surge of new legislation protecting the rights of rape victims, the sexually abused, children from pedophiles, the disenfranchised, the neglected, the elderly, animals and the environment. As a society we do learn greatly from history. But is it enough, will it ever be enough? Incremental, minuscule changes to laws, to security, to screenings and profiling, to retraining police forces, FBI, the TSA, Homeland Security and the NSA, to hiring more of the same, never stops or ever slows the rivers of blood which taint a weary nation.

Despite the obvious, we are a resilient nation and with every single headline, we rise. With every outrageous, horrific or incomprehensible assault on humanity, we rise. When equality rears its often ignorant head, we rise. When black lives are falsely imprisoned, persecuted or murdered by the very police who are supposed to protect them, we come together and rise. When children are abused, LGBT, children or others are bullied, when endangered animals are harmed or threatened, we come together and rise. When injustice is uncovered, we rise.

There has never been a time when we didn’t.

Resilience is defined as the ability to bounce back after a long struggle, failure, the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like. Buoyancy.

The primary components of resilience are:

1.) A positive attitude.

2.) Optimism.

3.) Some form of faith or spiritual foundation.

4.) The ability to thrive by serving those affected through prayer, kind acts of support, donating blood or volunteering to help.

5.) The ability to see failure as a teaching tool.

6.) The ability to keep a proportionate perspective.

7.) The ability to shift from one mindset to a more expansive view of the circumstance.

8.) The ability to move forward without lingering bitterness or blame.

9.) The ability to see the bigger picture in all conditions, to find the blessings hidden in the horror or pain.

10.) The ability to take personal responsibility without judging oneself.

We are a nation which has been tried throughout our 240 year history and we have always survived the worst storms while finding new ways to overcome the challenges every nation faces. Our resilience can be found in every history book ever written.

The fact is that with so much technology, with so much information, with so many gifted, intelligent, loving, passionate people in the world, there IS only one way. That way is UP, higher, more self-aware, more enlightened, more conscientious, more deliberate, more precise, more focused on improving the lives of all who suffer or hunger for compassion’s hand. We are a deeply caring society with deeply committed, men, women and children, who have seen more horrors in rampant success, than at any other time in history. We are a collective of unique, intelligent, determined, tenacious and creative souls who do not let life or its trials knock us down or trample us. In our compassion and empathy we may be weary and bruised but we always rise.

We rise and when we rise, it is en masse and life-changing and the world becomes more awakened, more determined and more committed to understanding that what one does affects us all.

Spiritual Life Strategist, Top 200 Most Influential Authors List, HuffPost, Thrive Global Animal, Human, Senior, LGBT and Environmental Rights

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Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on October 3, 2017.

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