The Roots of Resilience - January 12, 2021

What will be the force that helps us move in the direction of reconciliation and healing?

Posted
January 17, 2021
Graphic: "Strong Communities are the Roots of Resilience" carved into tree trunk.

The Roots of Resilience - January 12, 2021

What will be the force that helps us move in the direction of reconciliation and healing?

Posted
January 17, 2021
JFS Friends –
The noted anthropologist, Margaret Mead, was once asked what was the first sign of human civilization. The person asking the question expected her to name some artifact or too created by a primitive human being. Instead she responded, “A healed femur bone.” She went on to explain that it was the protection, feeding and care by another individual that was unquestionably required to allow such a person to survive to the point of healing such a fracture that signified the presence of civilization – a connection and bond with another that recognized a shared responsibility towards one another and a mutual benefit in helping one another.
 
I have been thinking about this anecdote a lot lately as I watch our society struggle with an ongoing pandemic as well as political turmoil and unrest. I have been wondering a lot about what will be the force that helps us move in the direction of reconciliation and healing. No doubt there will be investigations into what happened at our capitol last week and whether there are individuals that need to be held accountable in a variety of ways. In the end, however, I think that we will need to re-discover a sense of shared purpose and shared goals in order for us to move forward. This does not mean that we need to abandon our deeply held beliefs or ignore the real philosophical differences that exist. I think it does mean, however, that in spite of those differences we need to refocus on the pieces and parts of our shared humanity.
 
I believe that vigorous debate makes a society stronger when the debate is motivated by a desire to improve the communities that we live in together. Diversity of thought and approaches often lead to new discoveries when we are able to challenge old ways of thinking. The trick perhaps is to debate the merits of the ideas themselves without demonizing or degrading those that disagree with us.
 
The writer Israelmore Ayivo says:

No old road leads to new destinations! Change begins when one realizes that it is unwise to pour a new wine into an old wineskin. If you change your mind, you have to change your actions too!”
 
I love this idea that old roads cannot lead to new destinations. It reminds me of the famous saying that says:  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
 
If we are unhappy about the ways things are right now – one of the questions that we need to ask ourselves is, “in what way am I willing to change?”. If we cannot ask ourselves to change, how can we ask others to do the same?
 
When I was going through the American Leadership Forum fellows program one of the activities that we were asked to complete was called, “Experience as Other” – we were asked to spend the day doing something that was outside our realm of personal experience and experience the world through the eyes of a person or group that we did not believe we had a lot in common with. Some of my classmates attended religious services in a faith different from their own, another spent the day on the streets experiencing what it was like to be homeless, another spent the day in prison speaking to prisoners about their life experiences and yet another spent the day as a laborer experiencing life from the point of view of someone who made a living through manual labor.
 
What each of these things had in common relates to one of the goals of this exercise – to expand our worldview and help us understand that each individual can experience the same circumstances from an entirely different world view depending on who they are.
 
I hope that in the days and weeks ahead as we work to re-establish a sense of routine and comfort that we leave some room to explore how others – with life experiences different from our own – experience the world and perhaps gain a measure of compassion and understanding for the unique challenges they face in their life.
 
If you are comfortable sharing how the events of the past week have been impacting you and your thoughts about how to move forward I would be happy to listen.
People working together in a strong community with a shared goal and a common purpose can make the impossible possible. Boat on sand with ocean behind.

Take care,
Carl Josehart's signature

Carl E. Josehart, MSW (he/him/his)

Chief Operating Officer

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