A Lesson on Resilience
You cannot blame the fisherman for not bringing you fish.
I am currently living in the Houston, TX region and if you have been following the news, you likely can see what a debacle this week has been for the Texas region. As of writing this article, the power companies have made significant progress overnight and most Houston area homes are now up and running. This has been truly a challenging week so far for many, and it’s not over, but at least now there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel.
Over the next 6 months, there will be a lot of discussion on the effectiveness of ERCOT, the decision to keep Texas on its fully state-operated grid, and the decision-making process for everyone involved. In times of crisis, humans tend to want to hold someone accountable, and this one will be on par with what we saw from leaders during Katrina, Harvey, and countless other disaster responses. I understand the human instinct to do this, and while surely there are questions to be raised, I think we need to refocus our energy (pun intended) to areas that really are the root cause of the problems we’ve seen this week — our weakening ability as a society to be self-sufficient, community-oriented, and resilient.
Modern living is great, and we are all spoiled because of it. So many things we take for granted are true luxuries even by today’s standards, much less through the history of civilization. Even things such as reliable energy and water have become status quo for most of you that will be reading this article. This is of course the nature of progress and innovation, but it has made us far too dependant on government and central authorities to take care of our basic needs. We’ve lost the desire to help ourselves and our neighbors.
No matter how you want to look at it, it’s up to you to make sure you have basic necessities covered at all times for you and your family (and anyone else you can help), and simply sending duckets over to the electric company each month is not doing enough. This is the equivalent of hiring some old villager to bring you fish each month and then blaming him when he dies for your family starving. You have to at least learn to fish a little as yelling at a dead person doesn’t do much good.
I’m not saying you need to go crazy and live off the grid completely, that doesn’t make sense for most people. For those people who are living paycheck to paycheck, or who are disabled, sick, or elderly, there is not much they can do and they need help. These are the people that have to depend on the government for assistance and this article is not really for them. In fact, a prime motivation for those of us that can support ourselves to do so is so that resources are more available for those who need our help. You are not only doing it for yourself, you should be doing it for other fellow humans.
This article is for those people who have the means to take care of themselves and do not, either through laziness or just ignorance. This article is for those people that earn $100K/year and have six or seven figures saved up but struggled with a 48-hour power outage. This article is for people who drank a $50 bottle of wine and $100 worth of steaks on Valentine’s day but didn’t have food or bottled water 2-days later during the ice storm. It’s also for those who have lived in their homes for a decade but only know 1 or 2 of their neighbors.
It’s really about self-resilience, fostering relationships with your community, and a tiny bit of preparation. It’s not about trying to operate at full capacity during these times of crisis, it’s just about bending the curve a bit so you can go a few days on your own without any major struggles.
In a previous draft of this article, I had listed out things you can do for electricity, water, communication, and food but honestly, those are wasted words. We all know about generators, water tanks, and how to store food in the freezer. We humans love to pretend we don’t know what to do. We live in a time where information is at an all-time high, but we fake ignorance more than ever. Most of the time, it’s bullshit and it’s simply that we are lazy or scared to do anything. This applies to social, personal, and business challenges alike. Knowledge has been commoditized.
If you are a business owner, think about what lessons you have learned from Covid that you could, and should, apply to your personal life. In business, cash is the equivalent of electricity, food, and water so take the same skills that you apply to your business or team and use those to harden your personal situation up a bit. It simply makes no sense to continue to stock up your 401K account while your food pantry remains bare. Why do so many people try to build up a community of business resources (clients, contacts, employees) but can only count on one-hand on people that they can reach out to in times of need?
The biggest lesson of this last week in Texas should be that there were far too many people who had significant means available that were fully dependant on a third-party, or government, for basic survival. It’s not the job of the government to take care of those who have the full ability to take care of themselves. Community and consumables exist for a reason, and it’s not just about entertainment or wasting time playing games on your phone. What good is all of this that we do if we can’t take care of ourselves and equally as important, be there to help others that we know and love — or even like?