This morning I ran across an intriguing opinion piece by

In it, Chadburn argues, ” …normalizing the idea that residents in low-income communities can simply bounce back in response to a lack of resources…is handicapping our ability to help those truly in need.”

She recognizes the focus on resilience as an asset-based approach, yet expresses concern that projects which promote resiliency “valorize the idea that we should remain unchanged, unmoved and unaffected by trauma.”

Resilience, she says, is an antonym for broken.

I’m not sure her definition there is accurate, but she’s right to raise concerns about praise for the unbroken – as if all it takes to recover is to pull yourself up by the bootstraps.

Perhaps resilience should be seen more like Kintsugi – the Japanese art of repairing a broken dish with gold lacquer. Perhaps the places where we are broken should not be something to hide, but rather something to cherish.

Or perhaps that, too, puts too much focus on the whole, too much focus on the way things ought to be – and doesn’t pay enough respect to the dreary way things actually are.

I’ve been told that people who make it through difficult and traumatic experiences often do so by developing certain coping mechanisms – mechanism which might serve them well in one context while being entirely socially unacceptable in the next.

Perhaps, then, we should imagine people with resilience not as whole and unscathed, but rather as world-weary warriors, deeply scarred and wounded. Broken, perhaps, but beautiful all the same.

says resilience claims: “I am not broken. I can take more.”

Perhaps we should say: “You can not break me. I’m already broken.”


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