My hands were trembling. My heart was beating out of my chest. It felt like the waves of adversity were pulling me under the torrent. I would have to face the waiting stage and give the crowd something to get them motivated. It was in that split second between fear and excitement that a calming belief rose out of me and transcended the surge of unrest. So that was rising above fear. That was how resilience felt like.
Resilience is what hugely distinguishes our modern world from the past. In ancient times, the only way to test if the food is good is if you stay alive after eating it. Ancient men cope up in their environment through trial-and-error and guesswork. Lucky for us, our world today is more predictable than it ever was. This means that we have a much clearer picture of what might happen in the future. Our world equipped us with emergency departments, weather stations, insurance companies and hospitals to prepare for the unknowns. These days, however, we still have emerging uncertainties that originate from multifaceted phenomena like climate change, globalization, political and economic movements that hugely affect communities. These pose a challenge on how to build a more resilient community that can face adversities adequately. And how do we, proactive youths, do that? It all starts, without a doubt, with resilient minds.
Resilience in community starts with resilience in its people. The indispensable step to building community resilience is to empower people and raise their awareness through participatory development communication. Jan Servaes (1999), in his book Approaches to Development Communication, wrote:
In essence, development communication is haring of knowledge aimed at reaching a consensus for action that takes into account the interests, needs and capacities of all concerned. It is thus a social process.
The usual pattern for development strategies is a one-way process which goes like this: introduce the plan to communities, tell them of its advantages, and then encourage them to support the initiative. However, participatory communication differs in such a way that it sees people as participants of development and not just receivers of it. Paulo Freire (1983) refers to this as the right of the people to speak their word individually and is is not the privilege of some few men, but the right of every man.
In the Philippines, there is a practice where indigenous Filipinos gather around the dap-ay, stone slabs with a bonfire set at its center. They assemble to discuss community issues and to settle disagreements between their people. In this circle, everybody has the right to voice out his or her perspective on a certain subject. What makes this participatory practice effective is that it empowers people to think. Empowering people of the community gives them the freedom to make things happen.
To create resiliency, the goal is to make members of the community believe that they have the power to decide how resilience should be done. As we empower other people, we become pathfinders who go ahead and show others the way. The role we play is critical for we are not only leaders of today. Tomorrow we will be the leaders of the world and what better way to lead than to create leaders out of the people in the community too.
Most of the time, my heart still feels like jumping. But there’s no stopping a young mind that dreams to build resilient communities and say, “These peopele even with their hearts hammering against their ribs, are breaking the surface again.”