Be a Survivor, Not a Victim

How Do Others Cope With Tragedy and Adversity?

This section features a two-part DVD set containing videotaped recordings of 16 people who have demonstrated resilience in their personal and professional lives. Their compelling stories provide a rich example of the survival skills for the 21st century.

Watch these excerpts from “Daily Heroes,” Volume I

Storytelling is a great way to learn and teach the skills of resilience. The first training sessions on resilience occurred thousands of years ago when the first human beings sat down around a campfire and talked about their lives. We would encourage you to consider telling or writing your story. Sharing your story with others may be a way of building your resilience and teaching others these skills and attitudes. Writing a story down may also build resilience, since putting things down in black and white can help people to better understand the situation that they have confronted and the way in which they dealt with it.

In the Maine Resilience Program we have used storytelling as one of the primary tools in Storytelling teaching the skills and the attitudes of resilience. To learn more about this program, go to:

We use a novel, Reaching Home, as one of our primary tools in teaching the skills and attitudes of resilience. A novel is one of the best ways to teach these attitudes and skills since the average person requires 12 to 14 hours to read a novel. This time is often spent over weeks or months and frequently in the late evening before falling asleep. The reading is usually seen as enjoyable with the reader often identifying with one or more of the characters in the story.

In Reaching Home you take a trip into the future. Your first stop is in the year 2042. Your tour guide is a young fisherman who has discovered a manuscript written by his grandfather. With the help of his mother, he has assembled it into the story of his grandfather’s life in the year 2013.

Lee, the young fisherman’s grandfather, is the main character in this story. He transcends the typical notions of how heroes look and act. He has never made peace with the South he grew up in as a child, without a left hand or with a prosthetic hook that he wears or the nuclear industry he blames for his disability. He returns to the Southeast to research material for a book that he is writing. While there, an explosion occurs at one of the Department of Energy Plants, and Lee is caught up in the ensuing disaster and implicated in what is mistakenly believed to be a terrorist plot. He manages to escape from the detention center.

Much of the story focuses on his journey back to Maine and the unlikely allies he meets along the way. Now on the radar of federal agents tracking a terrorist cell in Boston, Lee is arrested before he can reach home. He is offered a deal: help the federal agents foil the plot and avoid prosecution. To reach home, Lee must confront his fears and question his perceptions of good and evil.

The story is divided into four parts: Book I – Fear, Book II – Flight, Book III -- Fight, and Book IV – Hope. Each book is followed by a synopsis of the chapters in the book and specific questions regarding the characters in the story. These are followed by the author’s comments.

Your journey ends as it began in the year 2042. The epilogue written by the young fisherman reflects the future that we may not want to create for our children and grandchildren. The future can be different from that of the story if we, as a society, choose to make it so.

As you read the novel, you can observe how the characters in Reaching Home either apply or do not apply the skills and attitudes of resilience to the situation they confront. In many cases, the characters will fail to use these skills or will choose to do things that will make a bad situation worse. The process of reviewing the chapters and answering the questions gives you the opportunity to practice the skills and attitudes of resilience and to begin to integrate these skills and attitudes into your life.

Watch "Daily Heroes," Volume II