Cultivating resilience in our communities
I spent much of last weekend out 'on the ground' reassuring and mentoring people - and especially the elderly - displaced as a result of the recent (and ongoing) floods in an area about half an hour's drive away from where I live - one of the worst affected areas of the UK, being the place where a number of rivers and waterways meet.I woke up on the morning of the second day feeling a deep emotional pain – almost like my soul was sobbing. The thing is, it didn't feel like my own pain. It felt to me like a 'collective' pain... almost like the accumulated pain of humanity from times it has witnessed severe flooding - and even been submerged by water in the past. And I could see this pain in the eyes of the people I spoke to and those I passed in the street.There were two things that really 'spoke to me' from my conversations with people affected by the floods on this occasion, however. And these two things were, as I see it, stopping them from 'learning' from the situation, healing and moving on. The first was the tendency to hold on to the past... the status quo. Footage I watched that night of one man's experience of the floods in the UK's 'west country' demonstrated this perfectly: the man, who had decided to remain in his home - though it was up to several feet deep in water - said he remained there 'because of all I've built up'. To me, he was actually choosing to remain in the pain, rather than accepting the change and moving on. I don't blame him: it's not that. But it's like one of the lessons of the time we're in now - and the times we're moving into - seems to me to be to learn the skills of letting go. If we want to becoming free and all-that-we-are, we need to be prepared to let go of everything (not that we will necessarily have to, but it's in the attitude - we somehow need to 'let go of all in order to receive all'. And this is what we are being invited to do, it seems to me. To find the freedom in the situation!The second thing that was stopping people healing was a tendency to apportion blame - usually to 'the authorities' (the council, the government and suchlike) for 'not doing more'. The authorities could always do better. But, in a way, in blaming them, we are failing to accept our own responsibility in the situation - and our own power to make a difference. In a way we are choosing to stay disempowered. We can't expect the authorities to do everything! We need to and can take responsibility into our own hands and start to co-create the resources we need.And that's what I saw happening in this situation. People were taking the livelihood of their local community into their own hands and had set up shop at a local church hall and were rallying round making up sandbags and taking them round to local houses. And people were streaming in to help them. It was awesome how people were working together, all hours of the day and night. One of the people organising the volunteer efforts (the lovely man pictured above with a fellow volunteer), said that they actually had that day had too many people volunteering and had to turn some people away. What a wonderful testament to the kind-hearted people in that community!And this to me seems to be one of the opportunities of this time. To learn the skills of working together - co-creating as a community, creating what we need. And in this we can become more effective in the face of change. And more resilient in our communities. This is the challenge. And this is the opportunity.The 'old world' mentality of buying in new-fangled 'reinforced' sandbags to protect their own properties from water, only for this water to turn up at and flood someone else’s property, which I disappointingly heard stories of, and seeing, in the area I was volunteering in, sandbags placed over drains in residential areas to force the water downwards... but THEN, where was it meant to go? It's like we need to put on our corrective lenses and begin to see in a more long-sighted way. And we need to begin to think of the whole rather than our small family alone... like the whole world is our family, which surely it is, isn't it? To take a bird's eye view...What do you think?