Resistance, according to the Oxford English Dictionary: “The refusal to accept or comply with something; the attempt to prevent something by action or argument.”
(I wrote this draft several weeks ago, but it took until today to feel ready to post.)
I’ve been thinking about injustice a lot. About violence and fear. About grief and pain. How daily life is steeped in horror at times. How I get overwhelmed. How I can take care of myself. How I can take care of others. How change is made. How I can participate in that change: Money, votes, activism, professionalism. In times of trouble, I often reflect on my profession as social worker and psychotherapist. My roles, my skills, my contributions. As a therapist and social worker, I want to work with artists, entrepreneurs, and activists. I want to be an ally in the struggle. I want to work towards a more just world. I want to help sustain world changers.
I also want to engage in direct action, but I am still formulating what that will look like for me. I want to bring multiple pieces of myself to bear. I want art, and activism and community. One of the groups I am thinking of engaging with: The League of Creative Interventionists.
I’ve been thinking about the privilege that my grief and fear embody. How I have been aware of injustice, but more often than not, don’t worry about getting out the door and managing aggressions to my soul, heart and body. I lucked out in my society: a cis white woman married to a cis white man living in the US. I think about how friends and clients of mine are subject to multiple isms and sometimes live in fear and worry moment to moment, day after day.
I have been thinking about how to nourish myself so I can struggle for justice, weep, laugh, find community. How to remain an activist throughout my life. How not to become complacent. How not to be demolished by grief, fear, worry. I want to nourish my hope. The troubles we are going through are not new. The solution will not be tomorrow. Endurance and joy, as well as consciousness and accountability, must be nurtured within me.
One small step forward: Reading quotes about resistance. Here are a few that are resonating with me today.
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
― Steven Pressfield
“It is necessary to remember, as we think critically about domination, that we all have the capacity to act in ways that oppress, dominate, wound (whether or not that power is institutionalized). It is necessary to remember that it is first the potential oppressor within that we must resist – the potential victim within that we must rescue – otherwise we cannot hope for an end to domination, for liberation.”
― Bell Hooks,
“We must learn that passively to accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, and thereby to become a participant in its evil.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
“The likelihood that your acts of resistance cannot stop the injustice does not exempt you from acting in what you sincerely and reflectively hold to be the best interests of your community.”
― Susan Sontag,
“The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.”
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
― James Baldwin