Although resilience is one of my favorite words, and the basis for today’s Mason District Resilience Summit and Expo at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale (Senior Safety Seminar from 2 – 4 p.m., Expo from 4 – 6 p.m., and General Session from 7 – 9 p.m.), last week’s massacre in Las Vegas by one man wielding warlike firepower is hard to fathom. How resilient is the human spirit, and the local response, to such carnage? That’s the question asked after Virginia Tech in 2007, Sandy Hook in 2012, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last year, and so many other mass shootings that have plagued this nation. Our first responders can train and re-train for such events, but uniformed officer training is neither possible, nor appropriate, for regular folks, like you and me.
Still, life must go on. We cannot allow ourselves, or our community, to bend or cower in fear. Whether a disaster is natural or human-caused, that innate spark inside us – the human spirit – forces us to pick up the pieces, clean up the mess, go back to work, and live to share another dawn, another sunset. That’s what resilience is all about, and with a little preparation, that innate spark can glow brighter and more positive, sustaining us and those around us, to regain the normal rhythms of daily life. For the visitors and residents of Las Vegas, it may take a little more time to recover from one man’s rampage, not quite the same as nature’s lashing of Houston, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, but resilience will overcome nonetheless.
Resilience is more than stashing away bottled water and shelf-stable meals, or making sure you have enough gas in the car and cash in the pocket to get by without electricity for several days. Resilience also is about good decision-making, looking far enough into the future to recognize how to react to an emergency. I recall a situation when our older daughter was evacuated from lower Manhattan on 9/11. Visiting friends when the planes hit, she donned sturdy running shoes, not sandals, grabbed her phone, backpack, and some water, and moved quickly down 23 flights of stairs to the street. While some still were trying to figure out what to do, she already was walking to mid-town to safety. She had the good sense to figure out where she was, where she could go, and what she should take, even away from home. She rarely speaks about what she saw that day, but keeping a cool head is an important facet of resilience.
Saturday is the Third Annual Taste of Annandale, along Tom Davis Drive in downtown Annandale, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Festivities will kick off with a 5K run at 10 a.m., followed by live entertainment, food to purchase, a chili cook-off between police and fire department personnel, and children’s programming at ACCA’s Child Development Center right across the street. Weather looks good, and admission (and parking) are free, so plan to join your neighbors and friends for a full day of fun
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]