This weekend, I watched a History International documentary on the Plague which discussed the remarkable resiliency of the surviors. Then, in an article published in the journal Nanotechnology Perceptions called "Singularities and Nightmares" author David Brin mentioned two ways to "cross the minefield" of dangerous new technologies - anticipation and resiliency. Finally, in a newspaper interview this weekend, I read the Dalai Lama's quote
"I don't think people have become more selfish, but their lives have become easier and that has spoilt them. They have less resilience, they expect more, they constantly compare themselves to others and they have too much choice - which brings no real freedom".
I believe the Dalai Lama accurately summarized Western society. I fear we now lack the resilience that enabled us to rebound from catastrophes like the Black Death - and the future will certainly require that capacity. In his article Brin stated
In times to come, the worst dangers to civilization may not come from clearly identifiable and accountable adversaries—who want to win an explicit, set-piece competition—as much as from a general democratization of the means to do harm. New technologies, distributed by the Internet and effectuated by cheaply affordable tools, will offer increasing numbers of angry people access to modalities of destructive power--means that will be used because of justified grievance, avarice, indignant anger, or simply because they are there.I think some degree of this is inevitable, hence the need to cultivate resiliency. We can't avoid every catastrophe, but we can press on regardless.