Where there is power, there is resistance.
I believe in the magic and authority of words. People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words. 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. 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. People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance. Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is. The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds. We are like water, aren’t we? We can be fluid, flexible when we have to be. But strong and destructive, too.” And something else, I think to myself. Like water, we mostly follow the path of least resistance. Remember that on any world the wind eventually wears away the stone, because the stone can only crumble; the wind can change. Resistance by definition is self sabotage. We sensible often resist intrusive love and its chaos practically, employing measures to prevent the former for fear of the latter. But for all our wit and work, that desperation for control also prevents the pure, transcendental freedom more often delivered by both.
Resistance is a sign that shows you’re going the right way. You can build walls all the way to the sky and I will find a way to fly above them. You can try to pin me down with a hundred thousand arms, but I will find a way to resist. And there are many of us out there, more than you think. People who refuse to stop believing. People who refuse to come to earth. People who love in a world without walls, people who love into hate, into refusal, against hope, and without fear. You see, the point is that the strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. God judges men from the inside out; men judge men from the outside in. Perhaps to God, an extreme mental patient is doing quite well in going a month without murder, for he fought his chemical imbalance and succeeded; oppositely, perhaps the healthy, able and stable man who has never murdered in his life yet went a lifetime consciously, willingly never loving anyone but himself may then be subject to harsher judgment than the extreme mental patient. It might be so that God will stand for the weak and question the strong.
The system loves resistance. Resistance is often creative and it feeds on creativity until the subversive becomes just another prepackaged lifestyle on special offer. So Cease to Resist. Relax and enjoy the Pandemonium. Believe everything and anything. Seek not proof, but take pleasure in your choice of belief. Wipe that superior sneer of your face and try smiling. We set our own limits on love. Some of us bind our hearts like some bind their feet. The binding is painful at first but eventually you get used to it and the pain goes away. The saddest part of all is that by binding yourself to the choices you make, you forget that there was ever another way to live. To acknowledge the existence of the bully and his accompanying risks is not the same as accepting him as a permanent feature of our world. I know that if we accept trauma and fear, it wins.
Bullies don’t just go away. Their legacies don’t just disappear. The bully must be confronted intentionally, his impact named and addressed. Even so, it seems there’s no clear consensus on how to deal with the bully on our blocks. Do we confront him? Match violence with violence? Do we ignore him, or try to kill him with kindness? I don’t think there’s a silver bullet to handling the bully, no one-size-fits-all strategy. But the right strategy has to be rooted in a context bigger than the immediate one, has to be rooted in more than aiming to end the presence of the bully himself. We must focus on the type of world we want to live in and devise a plan for getting there, as opposed to devising a strategy centered on opposition. Our objective as a realist is to maximize our worth, and our objective as a romanticist is to be foolishly youthful.
Life always bursts the boundaries of formulas. Defeat may prove to have been the only path to resurrection, despite its ugliness. I take it for granted that to create a tree I condemn a seed to rot. If the first act of resistance comes too late it is doomed to defeat. But it is, nevertheless, the awakening of resistance. Life may grow from it as from a seed. Resistance is vain in any case; it only leads to useless struggle while inviting grief and sorrow. There is a heady sense of manhood that comes from advancing from apathy to commitment, from timidity to courage, from passivity to aggressiveness. There is an intoxication that comes from standing up to the police at last. Surrendering to reality requires the highest degree of humility. For a peace to prevail, the powerful must practice unlimited patience and powerless shouldn’t test the patience of powerful. Dreamers face vociferous resistance from stale minds.
Beware of your contribution to the growing banality of evil lest you yourself become a cog in the machinery of terror.