Introduction to the Issue: Resilience

By Laura Finley

Resilience means lots of things to people. Merriam Webster dictionary refers to resilience as a noun, and defines it as 1) the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress; and 2) an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. Resiliency, or demonstrating resilience, is a verb—it is active and thus reflects personal agency. I chose resilience for the theme of this issue, as I see it as connected to so many of the topics of interest to peace and conflict studies scholars, educators, and activists. Individually, we can exhibit resilience when living through difficult experiences and recovering from rough times. Collectively, we can help build resiliency through support, encouragement, love, and yes, activism.

Submissions in this issue are diverse—individual and systemic, multi-disciplinary, personal and scholarly. From Sociology to Religion, Peace and Justice Studies to Communications and more, contributors offer unique insights from various perspectives. Contributors address personal hardships and how they were handled, how to support others dealing with challenging times, and what can be done to prevent certain types of violence. 

After an opening letter by PJSA Board Co-Chairs Geoffrey Bateman and Margarita Tadevosyan, the first piece is my contribution, about remaining resilient after a horrible car accident that resulted in serious injuries. Next, Peace and Conflict Studies student Zoe Schuck shares a heartwarming story about the beauty of small sacrifices amidst the chaos of Ukrainian people who have been displaced from their homes due to war. Niko Coady’s poem brings awareness to how survivors of trauma feel when they are referred to as resilient. Coady’s work offers us an important way to think about victimization. Similarly, cora àllune’s poem addresses the challenges of surviving an abusive relationship. Maria DeLiberato’s entry about her work to help death row inmate Clemente Aguirre highlights the resilience exonerees face through the legal process as well as the perseverance of the counsel that represents them. DeLiberato is the Executive Director of Floridian’s for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Next, JoAnn Oravec discusses the threats to humanity being faced by robotics and Artificial Intelligence, including how they are changing our daily lives in terms of employment, how our food is produced, weapons of war, and more. Oravec offers hope for resisting intrusions into our human identity.

Jonathan Hutto, an awardee of PJSA’s Social Courage Award, documents his lifetime of resistance, including his activism as a student at Howard University and with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Next, I share the story of the Cuban Jews, or Jewbans, who have twice started new lives with new language, cultures, employment and more yet have been tremendously successful, especially in South Florida. In his submission, Alan Hoffman focuses on hate—the roots of it, and how we can resist it. Next, Nicolas-Bilal Urick shares two pieces about global issues and resilience, one on the Oslo Accords and the other on the resilience of French-Occupied indigenous Algerians. Next, Randall Amster, former Executive Director of PJSA, provides a critical reminder that resistance and resilience should go hand in hand and shares hopeful words on rebirth while Yehuda Silverman offers uplifting ideas on building peace through art. Elsa Barron completes the issue with her haiku reflections.

I am proud to say the art included on the cover was created by my best friend, Gisbert Heuer. Art of Gis began during the pandemic, when Gisbert’s vocal studio was not able to open. He chose to begin sketching and creating photographic collages as an outlet during the difficult time. In many ways he embodies resilience, having grown up in East Germany and watched the Berlin Wall crumble, then starting new in the U.S. The cover image is a collage he made of himself and his adopted German Shepherd, Dayze. The two found each other during the pandemic and have provided love and support throughout.



Laura Finley, PhD, is Professor of Sociology & Criminology at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. She is the author, co-author or editor of 32 books and has two to be released in 2023. Finley is also author of 44 peer-reviewed journal articles and numerous book chapters. In addition, she is a syndicated columnist with PeaceVoice. Dr. Finley is also actively involved in a number of peace, justice and human rights movements and was the 2022 recipient of PJSA’s Peace Scholar Award. She served as Board Co-Chair for many years.