Much discussion of urban resilience focuses on systems; the conservative approach starts with individuals. Former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens’s new book is adapted from letters he wrote to a former SEAL teammate suffering post-traumatic stress disorder. Resilience channels ancient wisdom in support of an approach to living centered on personal resilience. Greitens argues for humility about our ability to control the world. We must recognize that life is unfair and take responsibility for ourselves. Channeling Aristotle, Greitens notes that these habits don’t come naturally, but rather from regular practice. “You weren’t born with resilience, any more than you were born with the ability to use a compass or aim a rifle,” Greitens writes. “Resilience is an excellence we build. We can practice it in the choices we make and the actions we take. After enough practice, resilience becomes part of who we are.”
Charles Murray sounded the resilience theme in his 2014 book, The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead. Murray believes that too many people from upper-middle-class backgrounds have had an “excessively placid childhood.” As a result, he writes, they’re “probably approaching adulthood with the elastic limit of a Baccarat champagne flute.” They can be sure that their resilience will eventually be tested, though, and when it is, he advises, “you don’t want to shatter into glittering shards.” Murray recommends that young people develop resilience by doing stints in the military or living in another country for several years.