Friday, December 6, 2013

Resilient Society, Part I

So, what might a resilient society look like?

One of the defining characteristics of the United States in 1942 is the speed with which the country mobilized for WWII.

A country which was nearly comatose and slowly shaking off the effects of The Great Depression bounded off her sickbed and leapt into the fray.  I propose that we use the United States, 1942 as our benchmark for a resilient society.

Work was desired
Duty was honored
Authority was respected
Sacrifice was expected
Opportunity was appreciated
"Playing out of position" was tolerated
Entitlement was held in contempt

Work was desired.  Work was seen as the door to opportunity.

Duty was honored.  The value of one's pledge was seen as one's primary asset.  The causal calculation of the NPV of welshing on a commitment was not contemplated.

Authority was respected.  Authority literally means to write....as in paycheck.  It was very clear where the money came from.  If you did not agree with how the business was run you were either free to find another employer or to start your own business.  And many people did start their own business.

Sacrifice was expected.  The etymology of Sacrifice is the same root word as sacred....that which is holy.  It is to defer to a higher cause.

Opportunity was appreciated.  There was little sense that anything was owed to us.  We had little use for false pride because we valued the real item.  We took pride in our work.  We took pride in the fact that somebody saw enough promise in us to take a chance.  We did not betray that trust.

Playing out-of-position was tolerated.  An outfielder can play shortstop.  But it takes a huge amount of effort and concentration to play out-of-position and the results are likely to be mediocre.  In extremis, $100 bills make adequate caulking for the lifeboat that leaks.

Entitlement was held in contempt.  The connection between the individual and the superorganism, the USA, was tangible and the threat was real.  Entitlement was seen as a particularly vile form of carcinoma, a tumor that sapped vitality from the greater organism.

A resilient society values resilient individuals and resilient organizations.  A resilient society does not foster codependency.

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