Vulnerable or resilient: which would you rather be?

Finally its cloudy this morning.  Supposed to be a chance of rain all weekend.  Down here at the Delta outpost of the Resilience Project, the farmers are out before dawn geting ready to cut beans as soon as it gets light enough.  Racing to get the crop in before the rain.

One fellow at church last Sunday said he had only 180 acres left to get in.  180 acres.  That’s way more good land for row crops than we have on the entire 1600 acres of Meadowcreek.   And not a stone in any of it here in the Delta.  The only field with no stones at Meadowcreek is what we call the sand field.  In the early days of Meadowcreek, potatoes were a main crop here.  Solanaceous crops like potato have a lot of natural poison in their leaves than the deer don’t like.  A crucial consideration when farming in a nature reserve.

The radar says Meadowcreek is already getting rain, but the wind here in the Delta is from the East, pushing the storm back West.  Or maybe being sucked west by some vortex which is the storm headed our way.  I think many of us have some strange beliefs about the weather.  But we don’t talk about them.

Some things you just don’t talk about.  A tribe in New Guinea has a word for those topics: Mokita.  Things everyone knows are true, but we just don’t talk about. Different groups have different verboten topics.

maxresdefaultFolks in New Guinea can talk about koteka but we can’t in rural Arkansas.  A koteka is also called a horim.  The Horim (in Hebrew, Horites in English) were a people mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 14:6, 36:20, Deuteronomy 2:12) as the aboriginal tribe who lived  around Mount Seir which was in Canaan. Mt. Seir seems to have been named after one who was an early seer and boss of the Horim.  Seir was the ancestor of the Horite chiefs listed in Genesis 36:20ff. The Horites have been identified with references in Egyptian inscriptions to Khar (formerly translated to English as Harri), which concern a southern region of Canaan.  Their excavated dwellings are still found by the hundreds in the sandstone cliffs and mountains of Edom, and especially in Petra.

If you ever get the chance to visit Jordan, take the donkey ride into the lost city of Petra, carved into the sandstone cliffs of a narrow wadi.  I visited while working with a cooperative which produced expensive rugs made of wool from their sheep.  An American woman married to a Jordanian helped them develop designs which rich people in America like.  They ship the rugs to the US and Save the Children and other, more commercial, outfits sell them.

My trips to help those folks improve their cooperative also meant I got to visit the site of Herod’s castle where Salome had John the Baptists head cut off.  Nothing there but a ruin, so you have to take the historians word for it.

Just as we have to take the word of historians and archaeologists that the Horim were allied with the race of giants known as Nephilim.  Who built Petra?  The Horim or the Nephilim?  We don’t know.  Horite has sometimes been explained to mean “cave-dweller”; but according to more recent investigations, denotes the “white” race.  Guess we need more research.

Esau defeated the Horim and then married the daughter of the Horim chieftain Anah.

peni sheathThe Horim may have worn a koteka, also called a horim, or penis sheath.  These are mainly known from the extravagant ones worn by native male inhabitants of some (mainly highland) ethnic groups in New Guinea to draw attention and intimidate their opponents.

Some say I am intimidating.  I’m used to that now, but I was very surprised the first few times people told me.  I don’t feel intimidating, I feel like a soft teddy bear.  Albeit a bumbling teddy bear who just careens through life.

I even feel vulnerable at times.  Vulnerability is an attractive characteristic, to some. The look of vulnerability  is said to be ” the key to unlocking intimacy.”  “The more vulnerable you look, the more men find you attractive.”  There’s even a body of psychological research on the topic: “Why do we find vulnerability attractive?”

Empirical scientists usually feel that they can only study something when they can measure it.  Other, more theoretical, scientists study with the hope of someday measuring it.  In order to measure something, it must exist.  A huge number of concepts in psychology and sociology do not exist in Nature.  So they can’t be measured, no matter how much some psychologists build their careers on them.  Not wise to build your career on a nonexistent phenomenon.  Just because it has a name does not mean it exists, except in the minds of the deluded.

Vulnerability, as a set of signals used to stimulate attraction, does seem to have some physical reality.  Big eyes, small chin and other characteristics of infants do connote vulnerability and do induce protective instincts across many species.

neoteny baby monkeyNeoteny, in the field of developmental biology, is the retention, by adults, of traits seen only in babies of its progenitors.  Baby chimpanzees look much more attractive to us than adult chimps.

However, vulnerability in famine mitigation, poverty reduction, disaster preparation, etc., refers to the lack of something.  You can’t measure the lack of something except by measuring the real thing which is lacking.  You can’t measure how much space is left in a glass without the water which is already in the glass.  If the water is gone, so is the lack of water which once the water enabled you to see.

Resilience is the real phenomenon of which vulnerability is just the lack. If you measure resilience on a 0-1 scale, vulnerability is 1 minus resiience.  V=1-R.

Now i have totally lost most of my readers.  First I lost some with all the talk of the Bible, then koteka caused even more to flip out, and now MATH?  What am I thinking?  Do I want any readers at all?

I’d like to have a few people read these essays and even comment on them. Mainly I get comments in church.  I bet I get more than a few after this essay gets out.  Then again, since our church here in the Delta is mostly farmers and their suppliers, they will probably all be talking about the rain or lack of rain and whether they got that last 180 acres picked.

I hope they are talking at least a little about resilience and vulnerability.  About how some women like to be perceived as vulnerable, but are really resilient.  And some men like to be perceived as resilient when they are secretly very vulnerable.  But I doubt anyone has really read this far, except maybe Robert and Leland and maybe Floyd.


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