Forget Permanence, Seek Resilience

Alan Watts said, “The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.” 

But does permanence dictate that a thing be unchanging in essence? Matter persists through different states, and in its mutability and diversity it defies oblivion. Death destroys a star and creates a galaxy. Permanence does not mean without change. Change is a force of nature that creates diversity through interrelationship. Without diversity, a system destroys itself and new forms fill its space.

While human beings may disagree on the efficacy of pursuing permanence, resilience is another matter--or at least, another state. Resilience is the ability to persist through adaptation. When something is resilient, it is not as easily disturbed by the fluctuations around it. When it faces competition, it must learn and become better. Its ability to change into something else grants it new life. 

As human beings with a biological expiration date, we find resilience in networks--social bonds, the sharing of ideas--because those containers perpetuate the contributions of our will and imagination beyond the scope of our biological lifespans. They live on beyond us, and in that sense, networks ensure our survival. 

What happens when social bonds weaken and we entrust the agency of our networks to institutions? Can we say that these institutions reflect what we intend when we give them power? 

And if not, to what other ideas and structures (both internal and external) can we turn our attention, to build and evolve through diverse, networked conversations?

The HumanCurrent podcast is hosted by Angie Cross & Stacy Hale. Subscribe in iTunes or listen at