What is it that enables some people to grow through adversity? Anne Deveson's engaging and thought-provoking exploration of this vital capacity of individuals and communities is, like her award-winning classic Tell Me I'm Here, a powerful combination of intellectual journey and personal memoir.
Some people find the resilience to overcome adversity and suffering while others are overwhelmed and despair. Anne Deveson wanted to understand better why, and how, individuals and communities develop resilience.
Anne's long career as journalist, documentary-maker and social-justice activist offered rich insights into the stories of the many spirited people and groups she has encountered in spheres such as disaster aid, war, mental illness, family breakdown and human rights. From her own life experience, she draws on vivid personal memoir (often refreshingly candid, such as the surprise of falling in love at nearly seventy, only to lose her soul-mate to cancer, which happened during the course of writing the book). In addition, Anne marshals information and recent research that has shed new light on her own understanding of resilience.
Her exploration is an engaging intellectual and personal journey, bringing together factual research, memoir and reflection, with wisdom and gritty humour. It will be an inspiration to all victims of life's 'slings and arrows', as well as to those hoping to nurture in the young, or in their community, the resilience demanded by times of relentless change and growing insecurity.
About the Author
Anne Deveson is a writer, broadcaster and documentary film-maker whose work in mental health and other social justice issues has won wide recognition, and who has a proven ability to engage a wide general audience with serious issues. The Foundation for Young Australians has provided some support for the writing of this book.
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Scholarly work... autobiography... a gem of writing... this book is all of them. Published 11 years ago, Resilience is even more relevant to the world of today.
Why do some people surmount difficulties that destroy most others? How can we foster this ability to reduce suffering -- from wars, disasters, family violence, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse -- any source of distress?
Anne Deveson has written a 280 page poem in eloquent prose to answer these questions. It is a personal statement, and yet a thoroughly documented case for a particular change society needs to make in order to lead to better lives for most people.
This change is the one I have also been campaigning for over many years. Beyond the relief of poverty, the pursuit of material wealth leads to unhappiness. Conflict, aggression, selfishness induce suffering for the perpetrator as much as for the recipient. Those who surmount misfortune such as mental illness or a terrible childhood are those who choose to give to others, to advocate, to hope. The main bars to resilience are meaninglessness and self-pity. The source of meaning to overcome this is to give.
A major character in Anne's story is Robert Theobald, visionary, inspirational activist for a better world. He knew that with all his many contacts and activities, he could only "shift a few grains of sand," but he continued to do so, concerned with doing the right thing rather than outcome. Typical of the man was a phone call to Anne, from hospital. There was bad news and good news. The good news was that they still gave him six months to live. "It can be a good six months." That's what resilience is about. And, for him, "a good six months" meant the opportunity to work at improving the world through every action and word.
Scattered throughout the book, I found every piece of my personal philosophy, the tool I have used for many years in my work as a therapist and an activist. Acceptance is there. It was the only tool available to her when Robert was dying.
There is a beautiful example of the power of Love on page 161. Child Anne and some other kids made money by stealing plants from gardens, then selling them. An "elderly woman, white-haired and frail," caught them. Her response was to invite them to take any of her plants, and gave them lemon cordial and biscuits. Their life of petty crime stopped.
A benefit of the book is the quotes and citations from a great many others. Reading Resilience seriously is like the introduction to a university course.
In summary, this book is a seamless waltz between the intensely personal and the universal truth. It's the best-written book I've ever read. Do yourself a favour, and you may join Anne's team, which is also my team.
Number Of Pages: 312
Published: 1st June 2003
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 20.8 x 14.0 x 2.3
Weight (kg): 0.36
Edition Number: 1