• Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021
  • Last Update : 01:28 am

Resilience is not useless

  • Published at 08:41 pm September 1st, 2015
Resilience is not useless

There’s nothing I can say or do to persuade people that Gallup’s labelling of Bangladesh as the country with the “least emotional” people sounds inaccurate.

It seems a bit off to me as well.

But while I believe it is wrong to stereotype entire national populations on the basis of opinion polls, there’s no denying surveys like this have traction. Advertisers, corporations, and the authors of business best-sellers like Freakonomics mine this type of data all the time to try and sell their products.

Perhaps rather than getting outraged at the headline, we should embrace our inner Spock and search for the true meaning of the survey’s results.

After all, few people are complaining that people in Greece, Iraq, and Iran reported the highest percentage of negative daily experiences, or that Middle Eastern nations recorded the most angry people and Latin America the happiest. Take a look at the first four of the survey’s five questions:

Did you feel well rested yesterday? Were you treated with respect all day yesterday? Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday? Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday?

It may be easy for readers of this newspaper to answer yes to these questions, but can you really be surprised that Bangladesh, with its large numbers of people stuck in repetitive jobs, working long hours, and often treated without courtesy or respect, had the smallest percentage saying yes? How many workers in a typical factory, farm, urban rickshaw, or domestic service can honestly say yes is true?

Given this, it doesn’t surprise me that relatively few people answered in the affirmative to the final question which asked if they experienced enjoyment, physical pain, worry, sadness, stress, a lot of the previous day.

I appreciate the stress part sounds incongruous to anyone stuck in traffic. The noise pollution from anti-social drivers using horns as signals is stressful enough. But on the whole, acceptance and calm by most people seems a rational response towards helping them cope with daily life. Why indulge in mood swings when it won’t change anything?

I’m not saying this is a wholly good thing. Numbness and passivity rarely improve anything. I was upset for instance by the lack of uproar when the tiger statue in Dhaka’s Karwan Bazar fell down killing a bystander. As some wag pointed out on the Tribune’s comments board, imagine the hullabaloo if the same thing happened with the Statue of Liberty or Nelson’s Column?

Such things can happen anywhere, people said. And we’re not proving very successful at protecting real tigers, why be upset if we can’t save a fake one? You get the idea. Cold, logical responses. Rebuild and carry on.

In other words, resilience.

And who can say that Bangladesh’s people are anything but resilient? Over the last five decades, Bangladesh has experienced war, famine, floods, genocide, coups, and dictatorship. But not only is it still standing, most social and economic indicators are better than people in 1971 expected.

When politicians and talk show guests talk in apocalyptic terms of people trying to reinstate Baksal, or take us back to 1971 or 1975, they’re ignoring the very real changes and strides Bangladesh has made since independence.

This is all down to the perseverance of ordinary hard-working Bangladeshis. They have to prove every day that they can cope and survive in the hope of building a better life for themselves and their families.

Resilience is a good thing.  Don’t knock it. We’re going to need a lot more to keep improving living standards and cope with the impacts of climate change. 

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail