Few things get our compassion flowing like the sight of suffering. But our response is often shaped by our ability to empathize with others. Some people respond to the suffering of only humans or to one person’s plight more than another’s. Others react more strongly to the suffering of an animal. These divergent realities can be troubling—but they are also a reminder that trauma and suffering are endured by all beings, and we can learn lessons about their aftermath, even across species.
With Phoenix Zones, Dr. Hope Ferdowsian shows us how. Ferdowsian has spent years traveling the world to work with people and animals who have endured trauma—war, abuse, displacement. Here, she combines compelling stories of survivors with the latest science on resilience to help us understand the link between violence against people and animals and the biological foundations of recovery, peace, and hope. Taking us to the sanctuaries that give the book its title, she reveals how the injured can heal and thrive if we attend to key principles: respect for liberty and sovereignty, a commitment to love and tolerance, the promotion of justice, and a fundamental belief that each individual possesses dignity. Courageous tales show us how: stories of combat veterans and wolves recovering together at a California refuge, Congolese women thriving in one of the most dangerous places on earth, abused chimpanzees finding peace in a Washington sanctuary, and refugees seeking care at Ferdowsian’s own medical clinic.
These are not easy stories. Suffering is real, and recovery is hard. But resilience is real, too, and Phoenix Zones shows how we can foster it. It reveals how both people and animals deserve a chance to live up to their full potential—and how such a view could inspire solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time.