Resilience in the Face of Nature’s Challenges

Jun 1, 2018

Visiting Iceland leaves one with a feeling of awe at the incredible resilience of the
Icelanders. The country is populated with volcanoes in every region of the country, many
of which have exploded in the last few decades. (In 2010, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano
erupted, the ash disrupting air traffic throughout the world for almost a week.) Yet,
Icelanders continue to build their farms right next to the craters. You may think this is fool
hardy, but the Icelanders have an allegiance to their lands which makes them believe that
destiny wins out in the end. If a volcano erupts and the lava swallows them, it may be sad,
it may be tragic, but many believe they have no other destiny.

This is a very interesting character trait among the Icelanders I met. As Americans, we
are often thinking if there’s a problem, there’s a solution. But in Iceland, land of elves and
magic and compelling rainbows, they have a different take on what’s important in life.  
Remaining on their lands is vital to their identity.

In conversations, I learned of the pride of Icelanders over their writer, Halldor Laxness,
who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955.  He is little known outside of Iceland, but
his works detail the struggles of everyday Icelanders to make sense of living in a frigid,
volcano-plagued environment. If you’re inclined, check out his most noted novel,
Independent People.