Questioning for Resilience –

When one frames the safety world through the delusions of zero ideology (see Zero, The Great Safety Delusion) the last word one hears is ‘resilience’. Zero is the denial of resilience. Why does one need resilience unless one admits that the world is not perfect, humans are fallible, systems are fallible, living is random and things go wrong.

Denial of any of these is a sure way of developing a mental health disorder.

When one lives in the delusion of life-denial and the nature of being, suffering and harm, there is no focus on resilience. Similarly, resilience is the flip side of learning and we know that zero is anti-learning.

When your ideology is zero then the fear of movement and risk become the mantra for stasis.

It is a sad state when we see the HOP and the Safety Science Lab endorsing zero as a ‘science’ (

For those who accept fallibility as a blessing and essential to learning/resilience then growth, maturation and adaptation are expected, encouraged and rewarded. This acceptance paves the way for an ethic of risk and a professional approach to risk.

When injury and harm are demonised and made the enemy of living, then Safety becomes a counting process. Therefore, any harm means there is no safety. Yet, resilience can only be learned through suffering, harm, injury and trauma.

These are not the enemy of safety.

Risk only makes sense if one accepts that the outcome of risk as not known, not predictable. Sometimes the outcome of risk results in harm. The big questions is: ‘what do you do when we are harmed?’. This is the foundational question that frames ones approach to resilience.

Handbook on Adult Resilience by Reich, Zautra and Hall (2010) ought to be mandated reading for any safety person – it should be on any safety curriculum. Of course, it’s not there, even in any safety psychosocial ‘hazard’ literature, you won’t find it. This is because the safety view on psychosocial harm is framed as a ‘hazard’. Psychosocial harm is NOT a ‘hazard’. Such language is unprofessional and inhibits the resilience.

Psychosocial harm is NOT a ‘hazard’ and neither can it be ‘eliminated’ or ‘controlled’.

The sooner Safety realises that harm is natural, the sooner it will develop some ethical intelligence about learning/resilience.

As long as Safety is seduced by the nonsense ideology of zero, it will never develop a mature, professional or ethical approach to harm.

The truth is, Safety doesn’t know what to do about harm. It has no ethic to deal with it and so it takes the infantile approach of zero and rams its head in the sand.

Similarly, Safety has no interest in a philosophy that could help understand an ethic of risk and harm.

When it comes to a mature and professional understanding about tackling risk we should be able to tackle the following questions. These are essential questions to help develop a mature approach to learning and resilience:

  • What is life and being like?
  • What is the big picture?
  • How much of our activity matches our big picture?
  • When we tackle a task, do we always reach our goals?
  • When we set an expected outcome and don’t get it, what do we do?
  • When we expect to head on a certain trajectory and it changes, what do we do?
  • Do we accept adaptation and variation as normal?
  • What is most important to us when we don’t achieve something?
  • How do explain how and why things go wrong?
  • How do we give meaning and purpose to harm?
  • What can we offer when someone is injured?
  • What changes? How do we change? How do we move?
  • What and who can we draw upon to help move forward when things go wrong?
  • What helps us accept change, learning and a new trajectory?
  • What language do we use to describe what has happened?

The ideology of zero and ‘safety as no injury’ has no mental equipment with which to deal with these questions. Zero has no ability to tackle the maturity of resilience. The development of resilience is contingent on the acceptance of harm.

One of the modules at the SPoR Global Convention in May ( is on Everyday Social Resilience.

Unless Safety can learn how to accept the realities of harm it will never be able to help anyone in the task of developing resilience.


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