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Reflections on Resilience by Peter Green

By its definition, resilience is dealing with adversity. I suspect that most of those folks in RBM also see living sustainably as fundamental to a successful society, even though that might not necessarily directly be associated with resilience. One of the greatest failings with our contemporary society, and for some time, is that we equate accrued wealth and possessions as success, and GDP is the metric of this at a national scale. There is a great urgency to re-evaluate our society with a different metric, such as GPI (General Progress Indicator). Interestingly, despite massive population growth, we were better off in the 1970s.

I commend to you one of the most wonderful speeches that I have ever come across, that of Senator Robert Kennedy given in Kansas on 18th March, 1968 (for example, https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/may/24/robert-kennedy-gdp and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7-G3PC_868, in which he demolished GDP as something of value)

Below is an excerpt, which includes the awesome summary “It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.” :-

Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product - if we judge the United States of America by that - that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.

It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.

It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.

It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.

And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans. If this is true here at home, so it is true elsewhere in world.

I think that he would mirror the paradigm of most folks in RBM.


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