Crises and disasters are windows of opportunity to learn and transform toward enhancing disaster risk reduction (DRR) and resilience. However, a poor understanding of community resilience and the social dimensions of risk, the lack of a methodology to engage and empower resilience in society, and business-as-usual together limit the implementation of effective DRR and resilience-building strategies. In this reflection paper, we discuss the main elements of the DRR and resilience paradigm. By analyzing the failures in disaster management, we identified the cultural and political barriers to enhancing DRR and community resilience as being: a paternalistic social protection culture; and the command-and-control approach to knowledge and resources for risk reduction. We reflect on the implications of this for sustainable development and argue that building a glocal culture of community wellbeing and resilience and a socially sustainable risk governance is needed to overcome the cultural and political barriers to DRR and sustainable development.