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January 5, 2017 - by Søren Hermansen

– Interview with Samsø Energy Academy’s Director Søren Hermansen on the topic of resilience:

“Resilience has become a scientific concept that expresses a situation where you must survive an threat. So your ability to survive in relation to the outside threat shows how resilient your society is. The threat can be anything, for instance climate change. But it’s a permanent thing, it’s always been there, and so you can say it’s a natural threat. Then there’s the societal threat that comes from within, defined by the conservative protection of what we have in relation to what we are working towards. So what we have is a threat to something that can be better or different. That kind of resilience is negative, but it has the positive aspect in that you’re not just jumping away from something that you depend on to live to something that you do not know if you can live by. So it addresses fear, or the fear of change, and with the fear of change you reduce your resilience – do it less – while the desire for change makes increases it. You simply have ability to survive, you dare to do it, you move on to the next step without knowing whether you’re walking into a swamp or if there’s a firm foundation under your feet.

“The balance is interesting, because it is not centralized, it is constantly based on moving parts that revolve around the things that really matter. For what it’s really about, we don’t want to go there, because it’s conclusive. Samsings would like to be where things are in motion, influenced by the outside, but still local. Yet it also means that we have to talk with the farmer over there. Even though I may think he’s stupid, he has some things I need to move forward, so we have to meet. This isn’t resilience, but more a kind of genetic manipulation, where we know that we have to cross-pollinate.

Even though we don’t like it, we do it because we know that working together it provides a better result. We go beyond the abstract more than we should. There are also some who say in relation to the animal world that when the lion bites the bison’s throat, the bison’s eyes have a peaceful expression because it knows that it is serving its purpose. It lets itself die because it has turned the grass it ate into something edible so that the beast of prey can live. In some sense the process has come full circle. It is very interesting to regard the natural state and accept its terms. And we do this as well. Resilience is a question of how much you accept and work with the terms. Today, we have a differentiated society where we’re not aware of the terms because we live in an isolated world as individuals revolving around our own lives with some self-defined projects that are not part of the overall societal development. I think that’s the core issue when we talk keep talking about resilience. It’s because we feel disconnected, not part of the whole, and therefore we are all in the middle where we actually don’t want to be.”

So, we are not part of the food chain like bison?

“No, we cannot peacefully close our eyes and say we have served our purpose.”Regarding the farmer who chooses to approach his neighbor, even though he really does not like him, where does the capability come from where he sees that this is what he should do?

“I think that’s something you’re you need to inherit. Someone once told me that farmers used to walk in each other’s fields once a week. They got together and walked across the fields and looked at the crops; there was a very strong culture in the rural community. You talked about how the crops were faring and asked each other’s about their chores. This is how they shared knowledge; it was a kind of social group to share experiences – best practices – that worked because it was in everyone’s interest. Everyone got something out of it.”

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