A few years back there was a significant wind storm in the Vancouver Lower Mainland. I remember driving with my dad to the passport office, dodging trees in the middle of major roads and navigating long lines of blinking out of service traffic lights. Within a week, some of the conversations turned to Hydro's inability to get the power grid back online fast enough and the governments inability to get the clean up happening fast enough. Some people expected compensation for damage and hardship brought on by the wind storm.
We are used to a certain level of comfort, which by global standards, is beyond comprehension. Our well being is defined as driving on well maintained, wide roads, clean water, free public education and health care, as well as an inexpensive supply of good food. For most of us living in the first world, 'comfort' comes with a crazy high bar of expectation.
European countries, in various degrees, are attempting to absorb (or repel) tens of thousands of refugees brought on by war and poverty. Canada has brought in around 40,000 Syrian refugees. In a country of 36 million that is roughly 1 refugee for every 900 citizens. Contrast that to Germany who has taken over one million refugees in a country of 60 million. That's one refugee for every 60 citizens. That is a huge cultural shift. That is a significant amount of sharing.
LePen won 34% of France's votes which is not an insignificant number.
If we had refugees making makeshift camps on the side of major cities, and increasingly challenging the resources of space, time and money, our good will would dissolve quickly. I have no doubt in my mind, that a good number of Canadians would vote for Le Pen.
Resilience, grit, compassion and caring are words we use to describe individuals but these qualities exist in communities and nations. How do we teach and practice these skills in collectives? How can we up the resilience of communities to manage adversity with compassion and care? Global catastrophes will continue to challenge our answer to this question.
Resilience, grit and compassion require practice. They are skill sets that need repetition and an intimate relationship with discomfort. This is true for one person and it is true for communities. There are not many places we practice collective discomfort, and we may find ourselves ill equipped to manage the hard choices and short term pain for long term gain decisions that will be required from us in order strengthen and maintain our communities.