In movies, we root for the resistance, the underdogs who fight unjust systems — Star Wars, for one shining example; The Matrix, V for Vendetta, The Help, Hidden Figures, Remember the Titans, Erin Brockovich, for others.
It’s a popular trope, yet we do not often resist the unjust powers over our own lives. We lament, we grouse, we vent, but do we resist? Resistance requires us to stand up to the power, whether overtly or covertly, and that means to step into potential danger.
There are many understandable reasons why we do not resist. First, because we don’t perceive ourselves in enough potential harm to take the risk. Second, because there are people in our lives we want to protect. Third, we’re just plain tired and it just can’t get any worse, can it?
It most certainly can get worse. Think of Nazi Germany and any parallels to the current state of America. I will not say we’ve become complacent, yet the Democrats squabble over their candidates and the Republicans believe that Trump is their best choice in the primaries. Yet we do not move.)
Resistance, in my opinion, needs to be non-violent as long as possible, so I’m not going to advocate the Star Wars solution until or unless we’re facing destruction from star destroyers.
- It can be protest, which may accomplish something if enough people do it for long enough. I think about protests in Poland, which have prevented some authoritarian actions there.
- It can be subverting the paradigm — I think about the Norwegians in WWII and their use of humor against the Nazis, destroying their morale: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/during-the-nazi-occupation-of-norway-humor-was-the-secret-weapon
- It can be refusal to take action, but this must be clearly because the action is wrong and not because the person doesn’t want to do it. And the action has to be clearly wrong. Civil disobedience is my favorite example: occupying buildings and other public spaces, risking arrest to protest war, violence, disruption of rights, and corporate irresponsibility.
- It can be social media, which is the resistance I see the most in America. The issue, though, is the swell of resistance is pitted against conspiracy theories, Russian bots, and other misinformation. We must prove our assertions with truth, even when accurate information seems useless — the truth will out.
- It can’t be offensive — which encompasses everything from riots to mailing dangerous materials to bomb threats to violence. Resorting to violence makes the resister look like an extremist, which means they’ve lost.
- It can’t have worse consequences than what the resister is fighting. I think about people who refuse to vote if their presidential candidate isn’t nominated. By inaction, they may be choosing the greater of two evils.