They were more teacher than student though in truth, they were neither. Too busy eking out a life, they gave no thought to title or role. Lacking resources most of us take for granted, they were simply responding to what life had given them.
As I visited several villages in India, it was quite clear to me that resilience wasn’t a concept to be taught, or a principle to be admired; it was a necessity for survival.
In a myriad of ways, these ones were my teacher, demonstrating what it means to overcome circumstance and difficulty!
When provision was given them, appreciative smiles communicated all that was needed. Young girls received hands-on tailoring instruction in order to become self-sufficient. Children who had been denied an education were given school placement, complete with the requisite uniform and supplies. Women pooled the little they had to form small economic co-ops to assist one another to meet needs. Gains were re-invested to pass on to others. Their actions were simultaneously simple and grand.
Even the basics of life messaged resilience. Physical throwaways were reclaimed. Items always have a use, even if different than manufactured design. Everything the earth gives is used. Plants yield far more than berries or grain. Every part is used whether to thatch a roof, feed the ox, or fuel a fire. Nothing is discarded.
As I reflected, I was reminded of these and other pictures demonstrating that resilience is about hope that rises above circumstance. It shouts value, purpose, and reclamation when life would say otherwise.
Despite all the things these people lacked, they worked with tireless resolve to do what was needed. Labor wasn’t the sole domain of adults as little ones took on responsibilities much larger than their years.
In most cases, others assisted in this living example of resiliency. Some encouraged. Some gave. Some lent a hand. Some modeled. All played their part in bringing hope. And with hope comes opportunity and with opportunity, a future.
Solomon observed that, “Without vision the people perish.”
Vision is a significant component of resilience. It determines what we are able to see and what we choose to see when life gets difficult.
It makes no difference whether we be in North America or the third world, the foundations of resilience are similar – hope, faith, and opportunity. When these embers are stoked, they better position people to overcome the difficulties that will be encountered.
Ideally, it would be nice if we could de-toxify, hence de-stress, our world where resilience wasn’t needed.
Employers could wish that competition for manufactured goods was on a level playing field. Employees could wish that a spirit of magnanimity would characterize relationships with employees. Parents could wish that their children would escape the stresses of texting, sexting, and the next ….exting around the corner.
We could wish that bullying and ill treatment would be forever eradicated and that co-operation would overcome confrontation.
We could wish …..
But building resilience needs to be more than wishing.
A Japanese proverb states that, “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”
Resilience is strengthened when we lay hold of the strengths we have been uniquely given. It is strengthened when we join with others and discover that despite appearances to the contrary, we are not powerless. It is strengthened when we promote a courage that does what is right even when such actions are hard. It is strengthened when we reaffirm value in others and engage in actions that make a positive contribution to our world.
Just one step at a time, we can build resilience by championing faith, hope, and opportunity.
Sometimes the smallest encouragement, the right word, the timely hand on the back can remind those around us that they are not alone, that they are not forgotten.
Don’t believe that you have seeds of resilience within you or that you have the ability to pass these gifts to those around you? Try telling that to the adults and children I met in India and then let’s talk.
by Rob Inrig
Copyright © 2012 www.RobInrig.com. All Rights Reserved.
I welcome your feedback as well as your ‘resilience stories’, their impact, and the lessons you took from these. Submissions are made with the understanding that they may be freely and without obligation be used in any future publications by Rob Inrig.