Varieties of Resilience — The Resiliency of a Victim

There must be as many varieties of resilience as there needs for it: excuses for not changing, hungers for thriving, and invitations for transformation, evolutionary calls for mutation and development….
There is a territory in The Wild Resiliency Keystone Processes I call The Shadow Realms — Transformation and the Great Unknown. My intention is to place on the map of resiliency-thinking Death itself, and all that likes to live in the darkness of the Unknown, including the psychological human shadow as well, for it clings to the unseen realms in order that the self of our comfort and familiarity may stay so.
So there is the resiliency of ‘bouncing back’ and of ‘staying the course.’ These arise out ofDomestic/Slinky Resilience denial and rigidity of personality as frequently as they do out of determination and commitment to some higher goal. Business are as subject to these strategies as are individuals or nation states. I often think of this as the Slinky Variety of Resilience, or as Domesticated Resiliency.
This variety of resilience has its place in the world; political and economic and religious conservatism can be thought of as performing a useful ‘anchoring’ function in a culture, a sort of homeostatic function, a resistance to the unknown or the feared or… to change. It is not without reason that families and cultures teach us to stay inside the corral, for it is only a self that can fear or desire change, and it is the self that must die and be transcended in order for transformation to occur.
This is the challenge for the victim, and for the perpetrator for that matter: an old self must die in order that a new one can be born. But transformation only occurs out of the stresses of life, and often the tensions must push us to the very edges of our souls, to the dark nights of our souls, before we surrender to the fires of this alchemical self-destruction. There is a very dramatic video interview of Diane Sawyer with a ‘victim’ of domestic abuse here, describing the challenges of self escaping from, dying to, itself.
It is a worldview and a story she must escape from, one in which she is both powerless andEarth undeserving, one in which she suffers for cause (to protect her children) and without cause (the irrationality of her abuser). Come to think of it, her position is not that different than our collective challenge in rejecting this war against terrorism… as status quo, or in accepting that some 80 thousand Iraq citizens is justified by the deaths of 3000 of our own on 9/11.
It is a worldview that requires transcending, a self that requires dying—in order that we may come to the joy and resource of knowing what the Aspen Knows, for we all have become victims to a worldview in which we are less than we are. We are left with but two fiery questions:



“What shall I feed myself, today:
Fear? or Love?”

And the second question is this:
“What shall I make of myself,
As a sacrifice of flesh and spirit,
With which to feed the world?”

You can find a bit of a different take on resilient victims here, at the resilient blog.


  1. Marc Choyt

    09/22/2007 at 11:54 pm

    It is interesting to talk about “keystone” tied to death when it nature it is tied to the notion of keystone species– such as the beaver, which is responsible for all the fertile valleys in north America– or the wolf, which brings greater balance and health to the herds that it hunts– acting altruistically for the whole. Taking this concept, what is the keystone in your Wild Resiliency?
    Secondly, much of the religious conservatism today is tilting to a rigidity and a fanaticism is a response in my opinion to the general fragmentation and disenfranchisement. The breaking down of the circle and the belief in the line” alpha/omega… things start with Christ and end with the rapture or apocalypse.
    The healthier you are, the more choices you have. The two questions are good– especially when taken internally, in our own processes, which we have more choice with than our outer circumstance.

  2. Larry Glover

    09/23/2007 at 3:40 pm

    Thanks for the comments and questions, Marc.
    Regarding the “keystone” concept as utilized in ecology, and nature, I think it is easy to forget that the beaver and the wolf… are essentially ’embodied living processes.’ Of course they are ‘objects’ too, but I am attempting to point to the dimensionality and depth and dynamical presence of that embodiment, that your post also points toward.
    In this light, the keystone of my personal wild resiliency (I think that is your question) is… the allurement of awe and wonder at the mystery of Life. The “Keystone Processes of Wild Resiliency”, within the model itself, thus become a means of embodying and focusing the eyes of a child upon the world.
    And yes, I suspect we each in our own way become both perpetrator and victim—to the smallness culture would have us experience ourselves as. The senses, of awe and wonder at the mysteries of Life, thus enact the roles of both beaver and wolf in the shaping of the internal ecologies of my life, in proportion to my willingness to live out loyalty to their embodied joy.
    This is why I say ‘wild resiliency’ is a radical affirmation of the Breath-of-Life, because of this loyalty to the deep, wild joy, that seeks expression through us, that would feed upon the smallness culture seeks from us; it is this very expansive experience of Life that fundamentalisms of all stripes and hues seek to suppress.

  3. fatfinch

    09/23/2007 at 5:23 pm

    I am not certain that those beavers and those wolves were acting altruistically. They may simply have been fulfilling their own wild resiliencies with unintended benefits for the rest of us. But I appreciate Mr. Choyt’s question and your answer which does put some meat on the bones of your concept.
    And, if I may shamelessly plug by own blog, part of the fragmentation and disenfranchisement Mr. Choyt speaks of is the result of urbanization. See Cities and Men, Parts I and II at (It’s in the Power of Place category.)

  4. Open Forum: Your Wild Resiliency « wild resiliency blog!

    09/24/2007 at 4:06 am

    […] The Circle Manifesto blog, recently posted a question to my first Varieties of Resilience post, The Resiliency of a Victim, asking what the keystone of my own wild resiliency is. You can read my response here, in the […]

  5. marc choyt

    09/25/2007 at 12:26 am

    I would like to expand on the concept of the altruism of the beaver and wolf as was taught to me by my Apache mentor over nearly the last twenty years. From her point of view as I understand it, these animals are altruistic because they work for what is best for the Whole, including themselves. That is her definition of “altruism” from a “universal” perspective. Their lives and actions bring balance and strengthen the web of life.
    My mentor believes that one of the purposes of a human life is to bring balance. Hence, she has taught me to look to anamals as alliances to teach how to work within the whole to support the whole. If you want to learn about altruistic leadership and hierarchy, the wolf pack is a good place to study. Community? How about coral or herd animals or plants in a forest. The list goes on and on, and that is the study with her, but one of the key elements is shifting out of human centric– anthropocentric– views about what is altruistic. Everything is alive and everything is radically equal in the great circle and everything has a right to exist.
    Yes, the animals are embodied living processes- deeply connected, deeply connected, deeply connected because it is their nature to be so– which is why they are teachers. But not all are keystone or altrustic for the whole the way a beaver or wolf is.
    I also just want to comment on oneness. In the early eighties I did a lot of practice with Sufis. The meditations led to experiences of “unity” but the problem was that I had to come down. I had experiences of exalted states. Coming down into my life and body with its accumulated unresolved emotional pain after touching these realms which seemed like home was so difficult that at one point, in the middle of a retreat, which had to end, amd was about to end, I almost got up and threw myself in front of a car. So then I practiced and did long solitary retreats with Tibetan Buddhists, which have a more horizontal approach to meditation. But it was my Native teacher who helped to bring me back into my body by showing me how to connect with nature and teaching me how to experience life connected to the earth.
    When you are young, you go to your mother when you are in pain. When you are a man, where do you go?
    I have been thinking more about my own question too– the key stone of my life. In the mornings when I sit doing my Buddhist meditation practice, I stop and connect with the sun rise. That moment, the blessing of the dawn, that feeling of possibility, of beauty, of wonder, is one of my keystones to wild resiliancy. Just feeling that first light. The Buddhist practice connects me to spaciousness, but the sunrise connects me to the great mystery and beauty. The combining is my keystone “moment” that I need to connect to in order to stay alive.
    There’s so much more to say about this, what takes place during the day– the heart of which, to me, deals with how to live sacredly, keeping that connection in tact, through giving away, through generosity and honoring what I kill to keep me alive through the actions of my life– the debt of my existance. I wish I were better at doing this.
    Good conversation. By the way, I’m writing from Chicago, where I have set up for a trade show in the McCormic tomorrow morning.

  6. Larry Glover

    09/25/2007 at 5:20 pm

    These comments may seem in some ways to have traveled a long distance from the original post, The resiliency of a Victim; yet I think they are right on as well.
    The work of Elisabet Sahtoruris (, and in particular her book, Earth Dance: Living Systems in Evolution, offers something to us that ties a lot of this together. I’m going to let her speak, from that book:
    “Darwin saw evolution as driven by competition among individuals. Later evolutionists noted cooperation and altruism within species, suggesting that evolution must be driven by competition among species for ecological niches in which to flourish. Richard Dawkins then proposed that both these theories were incorrect, as evolution was really driven by selfish genes that struggled to maximize their expression in the overall gene pool. What none of them had the vision to see was that they were all right, but only together. Self interest at all levels—species, individual and gene—motivates nature’s creativity and health.
    …It is very important to recognize that self-interest is not a bad thing, except when it is not contained and modified by negotiations with other levels of its holarchy. This clearly suggests that a world economy can work well only if it recognizes the need for strong local economies within it, rather than destroying them.
    Nature works out dynamic balance between self-interest and interest beyond self, as we can easily see in our bodies. It is no doubt for good reason that every cell in our bodies contains the gene plans or resources for the whole body….” —pg. 280-281
    “What we can say is that as long as the body is healthy, there is no conflict between its ecology and its economy. It coordinates a win/win economy/ecology in which all parts contribute what they have to offer and all parts benefit equally from the collective economy. No part of a healthy body gains its health at the expense of other parts; there are no such things as rich and poor organs.” —pg. 345
    “The principle of mutual consistency suggests that a healthy species insures its survival by putting out only quality. Quality material is something useful to others.” — pg 365
    The key here is the “principle of mutual consistency,” or ‘mutual coherency,’ as I prefer to think of it. Nature is woven of relationships; the language of Nature is relationship. Given this, even predator/prey relationships in nature must seek balance for the mutual benefit (coherency) of all involved, or the dominating party risks self-annihilation.
    And that is where human system victim/perpetrator relationships reveal both their domesticated resilience (resiliency’s shadow), and their imbalance in regard to the River of Life: they are relationships not grounded with mutual interest in the wellness, hardiness and wholeness of the larger organism — the relationship itself.
    And it is this grounding that is the challenge to both businesses, and to our relationships with our lovers and our children and parents and friends and community and… yes, enemies too. Without this grounding, I perpetuate the victim/abuser dynamic in my daily living.

  7. Idetrorce

    12/15/2007 at 3:52 pm

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

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