Former Time foreign editor Joshua Cooper Ramo rightly concludes that ‘much of what we face cannot be deterred or prevented’. He argues in consequence that the US should ‘rechristen the Department of Homeland Security as the Department of Resilience (a twin to the Department of Defence)’. This move from exhaustive risk management to general resilience is the next significant shift we need to make. It would emphasise things like local capacity, general levels of health and education, a good transport infrastructure, adaptability and openness to new ideas, psychological literacy and the ability to manage anxiety in the face of overwhelm. These are investments, not costs. They are valuable 21st century attributes in any society. And in practice they are the only way to realise the critical phrase I first heard during my time in the Resilience Unit: ‘we must plan for anything, but not plan for everything’. There’s our challenge. Because as we are coming to realise: planning for everything is a costly game, and bound to fail.
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