Like tortillas, ethanol is made from corn. And, as Zolli explains, the shift from edible corn crops to inedible varieties suited to the production of ethanol created the dramatic spike in the Mexican price of corn. It's this kind of disruptive economic complexity, he explains, that makes all of us -- from corn farmers in the U.S. to the tortilla vendors of Mexico City -- victims and captives of our intricately interconnected global system.
To confront and manage this destructive twenty-first-century reality, Zolli introduces us to "resilience," a word he describes as "the capacity of a system, enterprise, or person to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances."
Learning resilience is what Zolli memorably calls "ballroom dancing in the middle of a minefield," and he regards it as "the great moral question for our age."
"Resilience" is, indeed, a manual for ballroom dancing in the midst of the minefield of our highly disruptive economy. From the batfish of Australia's Great Barrier Reef to a Swiss alternative currency called the WIR to the collapse of Lehman Brothers to an Arab-Israeli peacemaking initiative called the Abraham Path Initiative, Zolli catalogues memorable examples in which systems, people, or organizations have either succeeded -- or failed -- in dramatically changing their purpose in the face of dramatically changed circumstances.