Resilience and how it Helps People Overcome Adversity

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Looking at Examples of Resilience Through The Life of Pi, the Life of Jim Tehee Sr., and the Early Presidency of Ronald Reagan and Synthesizing Their Stories to Show How People can be Resilient in Their Own Lives

Resilience is the way that people face adversity and a way for them to keep going. People have been building resilience for centuries; some have risen to the challenge, and others have fallen under the weight of all the things that are happening to them. It is hard to tell who will rise and who will fall in the face of adversity. What we do in these situations shows the people around us and ourselves what we are capable of. Fear and pain are both elements that all people work through in their lives. Each person that I will describe had more than just a reason for surviving, they had reasons for living, something that is a far stronger drive than just survival. When people want to actually live, they put every ounce of their being into living and will do all that it takes to make sure that the people around them know that they are willing to fight for their lives, even if they know that the odds are against them. Working Thesis: I plan to examine resilience and how it helps people through adversity in different situations. I will also compare the ways that three different people, Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, Jim Tehee Sr., and President Ronald Reagan, dealt with their individual circumstances in order to show how resilience can be used in the face of adversity.

Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, as I briefly discussed in the paragraph above, faced tragedy after tragedy throughout his young life that could have easily made him give up, but he did not. While Pi was in his home country of India, he was bullied by his peers and his family, but he overcame this teasing every time. At school, the kids called him "Pissing" because his name is Piscine, which sounds like "Pissing.” The next year in school, he went up to the Blackboard and wrote "Pi" on the board and said that this was his name. He did this in every class that he had and from then on, he was Pi Patel. When he and his parents were confronted by the priest, the imam, and the pandit, who were each trying to push their own religion over the others, Pi tells them that he "just wants to love god" (Martel, 69). He took charge of his situation after the boat that was taking him and his family to North America sunk. After a few days at sea with wild animals on board, he to creates a raft as an oasis for himself from the animals, and this raft later provides food for himself and Richard Parker, an adult male Bengal tiger (Martel, 153). Pi is also able to train Richard Parker so that the two of them could live on the ocean together. Pi uses a whistle and the waves to train Richard Parker where his territory is so that he can come and go into the boat without worrying if Richard Parker is going to eat him. Mr. Patel's journey throughout his young life made him stronger than he had been before the problems that he faced.

Trials test all people to see what they are made of, and that is exactly what happened to my great, great grandfather, Jim Tehee Sr. During the time when Jim Tehee Sr., then Jim Whitewater, was young there were a lot of laws that restricted all Indian tribes including the tribe that my family belongs to, Cherokee, from doing the things that they would have naturally done, including religious ceremonies and typical clothes that they would wear, and this made Jim's father, Famous Whitewater, an outlaw since he practiced his religion without the United States government's permission. Famous Whitewater was, what is translated into English, a swimmer. This means that he was the religious leader of his tribe. After he was born on the Trail of Tears and taken to an "Orphanage," which was really a re-education facility to take away his culture, he continued his swimmer traditions in secret, giving him and other people who practiced with him the name of Night Hawk. He was able to learn and teach the religious ceremonies native to his tribe. He was then slaughtered by the U.S. government because of what he was doing and because he fought for the South during the Civil War.

His wife, Ella Bearpaw, their three daughters and one of their sons were the only ones who survived this massacre, but not for long. After Ella remarried a man named Charlie Tehee, the government found out that Ella was still practicing the Cherokee religion, so they had her murdered as well. The only person that survived this was my great-great grandfather, Jim. Ella's brother took Jim in and locked him in a closet and would not feed him until he spoke English. After Jim got older, he started practicing the Cherokee religion, just like his father, and people started to come to him. The American government found out and told him he could either leave for San Francisco, California or he and his whole family would be killed. Jim packed up his family, which was his wife and his two young sons, and rode by covered wagon to San Francisco, California. He eventually left San Francisco and moved to Kingsburg, California with his family so that he could buy a plot of land there and make more money. Three generations of my family were too scared to go back to Oklahoma, because they believed that the United States government was still out to get them, but they made the best of their lives in California and did all that they could to keep their families safe. Jim Tehee went through a lot in his early age, much like Piscine, and, like Mr. Patel, he still kept living his life and doing what he felt would keep him and his family alive in these situations.

During Ronald Reagan's presidency, he was under a lot of pressure from the people of America and from foreign countries. Foryt-nine days after President Reagan was inaugurated, a man decided to shoot him after he got out of a meeting. On March 30, 1981, President Reagan was coming out of a conference at the Hilton Hotel for the Construction Trades Council, when suddenly there were gunshots coming from the crowd. A young man named John Hinckley Jr. shot six times into the crowd, hitting a policeman, a secret service agent, President Reagan's press secretary, Jim Brady, and President Reagan himself. Mr. Hinckley had done these things because he had seen the movie Taxi Driver, fell in love with the young actress who was the star of the show, Jodie Foster, from the movie and decided to act out a scene from the show in order to prove that he loves her. The scene showed a man killing a U.S. Senator to save Miss Fosters character. (An American Life, 261) After President Reagan was taken to George Washington University Hospital, he walked in to the emergency room and, as soon as he was out of the news cameras sight, he collapsed. This shows that he wanted to make sure that people knew that nothing could stop him, not even this injury, which he thought at the time was just a broken rib that had punctured his lungs.

He was rushed into the emergency room and they began to operate. While on the operating table, President Reagan continued to make jokes as they operated, such as saying that he hoped that the people operating on him were Republican and telling his wife before he went into surgery that he "Forgot to duck" (An American Life, 260-261). It took an amazing amount of courage and resilience to keep on making people smile, even though he was very hurt. The bullet that went into President Reagan ricocheted off of his armored car and hit him in the chest and fractured a rib, and then stopping close to his heart. This was not something that you could just patch up with a band aid, it took multiple hours of surgery to help fix the damage that had been done by that bullet. President Reagan recovered exceptionally after his surgery. In just a few days he was up and walking around the hospital, though the nurses were cross about it. After 2 weeks of being in the hospital, he walked out in front of the cameras to his armored car, escorted by Secret Service agents. He had the drive to make sure that the world knew that he was alright and that he could take anything that came his way. President Ronald Reagan reassured the country and the world after he was shot that nothing could stop him, not even a bullet.

Each of these situations are tragic and crippling in their own right and had these people just given up, then they would never have been able to do what they did. My great, great grandfather moved his whole family from Oklahoma to California, like Pi's family tried to move from India to North America. Both Pi's family and my great, great grandfather's family were migrating towards a foreign place that they had no understanding about, but my great, great grandfather moved because he was told that he either left his friends and home that he has lived in for all of his life or die, while Pi's family moved for the prospect of better living conditions. President Ronald Reagan and Pi both faced hardships that got them hurt. Pi was thrown out into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with limited resources and an adult male Bengal tiger, while President Reagan was thrown into the back seat of his armored vehicle and taken immediately to the hospital to have a bullet removed from close to his heart. In many ways, these are very different situations, but they both suffered through restless nights and days and they both went through great pain and tried to hide this pain from those who would interpret this pain as weakness and would eat them alive, figuratively and literally. Jim Tehee Sr. and President Ronald Reagan went through major road blocks in their lives and both were able to make it out alive. President Reagan and my great, great grandfather, Jim, both had people opposing them and they were both caught in life or death situations. Ronald Reagan may have been shot, but Jim's family was literally torn apart right before his eyes by those who wished for all of his tribe to disappear. These people had a lot of extremely tough situations that they had to go through and they did all of the things that they could do to persevere through each of their individual situations. They showed bravery and resilience through each of their plights and were icons to those around them.

In conclusion, each of these people showed that even in the face of adversity, they could be strong. They had many reasons to give up, and they did not. They resisted any attempt to dash their spirits and they showed that they were resilient. They used their unending will to live for their loved ones and turned it into something that filled them with hope that they could live to see another sunrise. They fought, they prayed, and they walked with resilience through every twist and turn that the world shoved into their faces, and they triumphed over each obstacle. Working Thesis: I have examined resilience and how it helps people through adversity in different situations. I have also compared the ways that three different people, Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, Jim Tehee Sr., and President Ronald Reagan, dealt with their individual circumstances in order to show how resilience can be used in the face of adversity.

Works Cited

  • Reagan, Ronald. "An American Life". New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print.
  • Martel, Yann. "Life of Pi". Place of publication not identified: Canongate Ltd, 2016. Print.
  • Greitens, Eric. Resilience: hard-won wisdom for living a better life. Boston: Mariner / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. Print.
  • Tehee, Stanley Wayne, Jr. "Family History." Personal interview. Jun.-July 2017.
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Resilience and How It Helps People Overcome Adversity. (2022, Dec 12). Retrieved June 15, 2024 , from
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