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Resilience, a hope for the future

In the collective imagination, one of the star ideas born during this pandemic is that of the ‘new normal’. It really hides the desire to return to the old normality, to the daily life experienced before the outbreak of the pandemic. A kind of ‘back to the future’, paraphrasing the title of the film directed and written by Robert Zemeckis in which the protagonist travels to the past. Language as a living being There are many words that the pandemic has brought us. Some of them, new, built to reflect new realities, have burst in with such power that the Dictionary of the Spanish Language (DLE) has incorporated or redefined them with unusual speed. Words such as coronavirus, COVID, deconfinement, de-escalation or seroprevalence. Others, with more tradition, have found a renewed prominence, either amendments or new meanings, to be incorporated into the language of daily use: chinstrap, mask, confinement, quarantine, pandemic or vaccine . This is the case with the concept of resilience. Resilience as an evolutionary example Resilience is a wonderful example to account for the evolutionary force of the Spanish language. The word has its origins in scientific-technical language and arises to account for the properties of materials. The first repository of vocabularies that collects it is the important work of the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences, the Scientific and Technical Vocabulary. The first edition of this work dates from 1976, after more than one hundred years of a task that was agreed in the session of the Academy in 1848, a year and a half after its foundation by a Royal Decree of Isabel II. This is proof of the vicissitudes that have presided over scientific and technical development in Spain. In its second edition, from 1990, it defines the term resilience as: “the ability of a solid to recover its original shape and size, when the system of forces causing the deformation ”. The term was not included in the Current Spanish Dictionary of 1999, nor in the DLE in its twenty-second edition of 2001. It was included in the twenty-third edition, in 2014, with a meaning in the field of psychology: “human capacity to flexibly assume extreme situations and overcome them “. Resilience has been one of the candidates for word of the year of the Foundation for Urgent Spanish (FundéuRAE), which defines it as the” ability to adapt and recover from an adverse situation ” . The DLE, in its 2020 update, includes two meanings. One indicates the return to the initial state after the cessation of a disturbance. The other, which evokes the obtaining of an evolutionary advantage (in the Darwinian sense of the concept), implies an adaptation to the new circumstances and therefore an evolution towards a more appropriate and consistent situation. The concept of resilience is in its early stages. meaning associated with the idea of ​​normality, while the second links it to that idea of ​​’new normality’ that we mentioned at the beginning. A normality about which there are few certainties, beyond that it will be future, and therefore it is only possible to wish and speculate on its characteristics. Recover or transform A static vision of resilience would lead us to want to return to the same state in which we found ourselves (at the individual level and as a society) in the moment immediately before the pandemic. Although it is difficult to imagine that, after COVID-19, the individual circumstances of each one, those of each society, and those of humanity and the planet as a whole will be the same as those prior to this pandemic disturbance. return to an alleged ‘initial state’, one can only embrace an evolutionary resilience, an inevitable adaptation to the new (future) and different normality. For this transit, it is particularly helpful to revisit Darwin’s theory of evolution and, particularly, to understand the idea of ​​the survival of the best adapted (not the strongest) and its central role in the evolution of species, including the human. Evolutionary Resilients Ecology provides many useful concepts for this evolutionary transition. In this regard, we allow ourselves to recommend the conversation between the ecologist Pedro Jordano and the biologist María José Sanz, in the second chapter of the documentary series ‘Porvenir’, directed by Iñaki Gabilondo. Some, such as the aforementioned adaptation, refer to an accommodation and conciliation with the new circumstances. Likewise, the concepts of recovery, restoration and regeneration do not evoke, contrary to what it might seem, a return to a previous state, but rather a transition, an evolution, towards a new state of balance. A state that does not have to be the same as the previous one (and in fact it is highly probable that it is not) but rather different, adapted to the new circumstances. Recovering means “Taking back or acquiring what you used to have” (DLE). This concept takes us back to the static vision of resilience, to which we have referred previously. But it also has the meanings of “returning to a state of normality after having gone through a difficult situation” and “putting back into service what was already useless.” That is, it evokes the return to a state of normality or optimal functioning; state that, in property, does not necessarily have to be the previous state, although it may be a state or situation of equality or similarity with respect to that original state. It is the same sense as restoring, that is, “to repair, renew or return something to the state or estimate it used to have”, or “to repair (something) of the deterioration it has suffered”. Regenerate, according to the DLE, means “ give new being to something that has degenerated, reestablish it or improve it ”. According to the components of the El Día Later platform, “regeneration invites us to go beyond mere recovery, understood as repairing something so that it returns to its previous state. To regenerate is to create something original, and to do it by improving what existed before. ”It could be said that regeneration is twinned with the concepts of recovery and restoration, understood as the putting into service of what had become useless, of recovering from the deterioration suffered, in short , progress towards improvement. Alessandro Baricco raises two possible scenarios in the resolution of the eventual duel between the old and the new world. One of them goes through the restoration of a social order in the process of collapse. The other, for “the victory of the new world”, the advent of a new cultural, political, moral system. Baricco, when mentioning the search for a controlled collapse for the “old cultural world”, handles a concept that is also used in ecology. In the field of everyday life, for a large part of the population, regeneration in this transition to The uncertain ‘new normal’ necessarily goes through a previous recovery, where the immediate aspiration is to recover employment, housing, face-to-face education for their children, etc. The static perspective of resilience is the sister of resignation. We propose an evolutionary adaptation to new circumstances, to the evolutionary forces that configure new natural, social, emotional, economic and political ecosystems. Adaptation that, in terms of human evolution, also implies modeling these circumstances, because the human species, using and modifying the elements of its environment, has the ability to sculpt its own evolution. This modeling refers back to biology and ecology. Let’s go back to the conversation we referred to earlier: the concepts of mitigation and prevention, closely linked, invite us to intervene on the causes of crises (health, climate, economic …), acting on those factors that we may have some kind of control, adopting preventive measures before damage occurs. “I want to see how, in a world in crisis, I can contribute so that things not only recover, but are transformed”, is the wish expressed by Manuel Castells in a recent interview. Evolutionary resilience to a new global ecosystem We can sense and foresee that the human being, as an inhabitant or an integral part of nature, instead of a member of society (as Henry David Thoreau describes it in his work Walking) is condemned to maintain an interaction ecological with viruses. An evolutionary adaptation with those entities that mutate and evolve. We will establish an adaptation of the type that evolutionary biology calls “the Red Queen”, after the character in the play Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there, which she said to the girl : “Here, as you can see, you have to run at full speed simply to stay in the same place.” Evolutionary adaptation to the virus. Evolutionary resilience to remain, to continue inhabiting this planet, working for our future, without sitting down to ‘wait for last year’, and language, dialogue, reflection and critical thinking as an engine of explosion. Because, as Unamuno said, “all philosophy is, then, basically philology.” In sum, as stated in the aforementioned Scientific Vocabulary, to consider that Science is above all a linguistic problem: “There is no Science or scientific method without precise ideas.” This article was originally published in The Conversation. Read the original.Jesús Rey Rocha is a founding member of the Spanish Association for the Advancement of Science (AEAC) and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of the research team of the project ‘Scientific, philosophical and social analysis of COVID-19: social repercussion, ethical implications and culture of prevention against pandemics (BIFISO)’ financed by the CSIC within the framework of the CSIC-COVID-program. 19.Emilio Muñoz Ruiz is a promoter partner of the AEAC and a member of its Advisory Council. He is part of the research team of the project “Scientific, philosophical and social analysis of COVID-19: social impact, ethical implications and culture of prevention against pandemics (BIFISO)”, funded by the CSIC within the framework of the CSIC-COVID program -19.

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