Resilience is always context specific and pragmatic. Shocks and changes are reckoned with by the system, (probably) indicated by early warning indicators, and responded to. Response is not limited to immediate threat response but includes long-term learning and self-regulation processes. Thus, resilience is not a pre-existing system property. Instead, it is taking shape over time when undergoing crises and change. We argue that resilient systems do not just develop randomly in an arbitrary direction, as does an ordinary maturing process, but that development trajectories need to be built proactively and normatively. Normativity, however, should not be derived exogenously from general ethical standards but could instead be reconstructed endogenously from the concept of resilience itself. In light of global climate change, for example, a resilient global economy should account for its mutual interdependencies with social and ecological systems, the preservation of response diversity and the strengthening of (local) learning and control capacities.