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Doing More Resistance?

Recently a blog about resistance was posted on our website and linked to our Facebook page. One of the readers brought up the following question: “what if people want to do more resistance but can’t do it?” Here are the thoughts of one counsellor (who is not the author of the blog post that inspired the question).

In an answer that might not feel like an answer, first notice the ways one is able to resist, and honour those acts of resistance rather than focusing on what one was unable or unwilling to do. Also, recognize that there may be very important reasons, especially about safety, why one cannot or does not resist in certain ways. Additionally, let’s also honour that the very desire to resist more is also a form of resistance – you are objecting to the oppression and holding on to that truth that something is not right.

If one wants to reflect more on the question – I would suggest that further exploration be accompanied by self-compassion, which is to say, reflection without going into self-criticism – that last point might be the hard part. Note also, there is a time and place for the kind of self-reflection I am talking about and the right time is NOT in the moment of experiencing violence. In those moments one simply needs to survive in the best way that can be figured out at the time.

So, back to our question: what if we want to do more resistance but can’t? Here are some other things to consider:

  • What else would I like to do?
  • What might be the consequences of that?
  •  What might be the consequences of not doing that?
  • Why can’t I do that thing I want to do? What is getting in the way? (Not, what is wrong with me that I can’t do it?).

o What societal constraints are there?
o What beliefs do I have about what I am allowed to do? Are they accurate?
o What are other people telling me about what’s OK or not OK?
o …etc…

When you identify what is in the way, you might conclude that you are doing all that you can, and then we go back to the beginning – honour what you are doing.

Or maybe you conclude that it is possible to resist in other ways after all.

  • What are some other ways that I could resist?
  • How do others resist?
  • How is my situation different or the same as theirs?
  • Is there one small additional thing I can do?

Remember, acts of resistance do not have to be big or even noticeable to others to have meaning and power. They might not be able to overtly change the situation (although I have a lot of faith in the idea that very small acts can have powerful ripple effects). Such acts might “only” allow us to preserve our dignity, hold onto our truths, and maintain our humanity. When it comes right down to it, those are not such small things after all.

If you want to read more about resistance, you could check out the Centre for Response-based Practice or this article by Allan Wade:  Small Acts of Living: Everyday Resistance to Violence and Other Forms of Oppression.