Resilience is one of my favorite concepts, and we sure need it now. Every day brings new revelations, new scandals, new name-calling, new emergencies, and new “never thought I’d hear that” comments. If resilience is defined as elasticity, or the ability to spring back, then one wonders how much stretchiness remains. Watching the news can be similar to watching a tennis match, only at a much faster speed. Heads spin like cartoon characters, and I keep expecting that resounding “sn-a-a-ap” when the elastic’s tolerance finally is exceeded.
But resilience also is defined as the ability to recover quickly from difficulties, or toughness, and that’s where the greater hope lies. Despite the current antics at the federal level, the real work gets done closer to home, by local government and its constituents. When a hurricane or blizzard is forecast, emergency plans are implemented at the local level, using local resources and first responders. Mutual aid agreements between local jurisdictions allow for placement of more staff and equipment at the crisis scene, and get the problem resolved, not wrangle over turf. Emergency plans are not fake news; they are real, carefully thought out, fairly simple, and rely on a cooperative and collaborative partnership with the community at large to implement.
Preparation is one thing; implementation is another. We can be prepared for the storm – fresh batteries, food that doesn’t need refrigeration, fuel tank topped off, cell phone charged up – but when the power goes out, or a tree blocks the road, for hours or days, our internal coping mechanisms may shut down. That’s usually where the toughness comes in. It may be easy to blame someone else, criticize the power company, get angry about the inconvenience, but true resilience depends on focus, doing first things first, and working with neighbors to resolve immediate issues. It’s easy to be mesmerized by the kinds of “shiny objects” that permeate the news every day these days. Resilience provides the compass that guides us to recovery and stability, for the short term, and longer. And how we crave stability these days!
Monday marked the 11th anniversary of the loss of 32 souls in the shootings at Virginia Tech. At the time, it was the largest loss of life in mass shootings in this nation. Now, it ranks third, surpassed recently by massacres at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando (49), and the Las Vegas Strip (58). Sadly, our nation continues to be rocked by mass shootings – in our schools, our churches, and our workplaces. Recovering quickly from those may be the greatest challenge for our resilience.
The enormously popular semi-annual book sale, sponsored by the Friends of the George Mason Regional Library, begins today at 3 p.m. and continues through Sunday. Book sale hours are: today, 3 – 9 p.m.; tomorrow, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; and Sunday, noon – 5 p.m. The library is located at 7001 Little River Turnpike in Annandale. Visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/branches/george-mason-regional for more information.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]