Resistance and Re-Purposing our Lives

I cannot remember the last time I participated in a demonstration – before the Women’s March in Washington, DC, that is. It must have been decades ago. What is it that drove me and millions of others (women AND men) to ignite this new resistance movement? And how to understand that concept: to resist?

The dictionary tells us that resisting is about withstanding the action or effect of some other force; it is about opposing or striving against, to take a stand against. Synonyms include confronting, counteracting, and rebuffing.

DC Women's march

I resisted the idea of including this overtly political post into my blog for over a week, torn about whether it actually fits with the mission and purpose of my blog. Four years ago, I declared on my About page:

This blog is dedicated to the discovery of beauty in all its ordinary and extraordinary manifestations. May we all learn to become more present with what is inside of us and around us, the subtle nuances of experience, the savoring of simple pleasures, and the celebration of what makes us unique and life worth living.

Participating in the Women’s March in DC was an extraordinary experience – to witness and feel in my body the cohesiveness and solidarity of a huge crowd made up of people of all ages, religions, races, sexual identity. We marched as one, we cheered as one and booed as one. Where else in our day-to-day lives can we experience the power of a united humanity? When was the last time I felt so viscerally connected to such a large body of people? – this was the beauty of human connection and solidarity in its extraordinary manifestation. The values advocated by this crowd of people ranged across reproductive rights, immigrant rights, inmate rights, religious choice, equal pay, earth justice, and many more. These shared values are what “makes us unique and life worth living” as a multi-cultural society.

Today’s Daily Prompt “resist” was my final nudge!

Like millions of other people, I have been engaged in resistant acts in the last few weeks – contacting politicians to oppose the selection of unfit, unethical, conflict-of-interest ridden individuals for key positions in our new administration; spreading relevant information through social media; joining local groups of people interested in making a difference.

two-women-in-tree

dr-seuss

I thought of all the resistance movements and resistance symbols I have seen in my own lifetime. This anti-nuke pin has survived four decades that included cross-continental moves. The pin symbolizes the beginnings of my political activism in my teens, in Germany. It shows a nuclear reactor with the word “nein” written across it (the word “no” in German).

anti-nuke-pin

Of course there are many more symbols of resistance: Mao, Che Guevara, Steve Biko, Nelson Mandela, the keffiyeh (Palestinian black and white scarf), Black Panther berets and raised fists, coat hangers for illegal and dangerous abortions, and, most recently, images of Native Americans braving militarized police who defend the interests of pipeline companies.

How I see the current situation: the fire alarms have gone off, we have a fire emergency and the fire needs to be put out to prevent massive damage to our democratic structure and social system. So I will help carry water and try to douse the fire in whichever way I can – taking a stand and dedicating a substantial part of my life (re-purposing my life) to political activities.

However, I am interested in more than merely putting out a fire. I want to understand the underlying reasons that caused this fire and I want to assure that the remaining structure (our democracy) becomes more fire resistant. Some people are arguing that we need the fire to burn down what is not serving the people, that the fire has been smoldering underground, regardless of what political leanings the inhabitants espouse.

I don’t want to merely follow some group’s five-point program to engage in resistance – although that is valuable, important, and gives us a sense that we are actually DOING something. I want to re-read writings of the resistance movements of the past and understand the underlying principles, gleaning from the freedom fights of the past what might work for our contemporary struggle to regain true democracy (did it ever exist?).

In my mind, the end goal of this resistance movement is not to replace the Republicans with Democrats again. Politicians from both parties have been bought by the large banks and multi-national corporations and are unlikely to truly represent their constituents with the obligations engendered by so much corporate money. As much as I liked our previous president as a person, wars continued under his administration, drones killed innocent civilians, citizen surveillance was expanded rather than discontinued, the bankers who caused the economic crash of 2007/08 were never held accountable, police profiling and brutality against African Americans escalated, the upper one-percenters continued to reign and vacuum up even more of the wealth of the middle classes, government expenditures continued to increase to dangerous deficit levels.

Furthermore, we need to educate ourselves about the true nature and insidious power of the Federal Reserve System, which is a private banking cartel, not a government institution. We need to investigate and expose the behind-the-scene and difficult-to-follow machinations of the Federal Reserve that enable the crushing stranglehold of corporations over our political apparatus. When we start a movement to separate politicians from corporate money, we may have a chance at a functioning democracy again.

I was inspired by Amanda Witt’s passionate speech at the DC Women’s March. She left us with the question: “What will YOU do with your fire?”

our-rights-are-not-up-for-grabs

The Daily Prompt: Resist.

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Repurpose.

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About Beauty Along the Road

A blog about discovering beauty in all its ordinary and extraordinary manifestations.
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36 Responses to Resistance and Re-Purposing our Lives

  1. laurasaridavis says:

    Annette, I love this post and agreed with pretty much everything in it. But what I love the most was the way you shared your question about whether to post it or not! I’ve been struggling with some of those questions myself in terms of my own business, how much to put my politics into the marketing of my business. So much of my business is based on ME and I am being deeply impacted by what is happening in our country. I have to be myself.

    Mostly, I just wanted to say it was a great piece and I’m so happy you published it even though you had doubts initially.

    Sending big love your way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Laura. It is impossible to separate these two areas of our life if we want to show up authentically. I know you will channel your own reactions into some wonderful pieces of writing and invent fabulous new exercises for your students. Our own experiences and struggles open up bigger spaces to hold for our students and clients. Love and blessings right back at you.

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  2. Thanks Annette, for your resistance and commitment against this madness.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bkpyett says:

    Excellent post. I can’t see how Trump will survive a full term. Surely the other politicians won’t stand for his unpredictable behaviour? I read somewhere that he’s suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder and that makes a lot of sense. Not a good thing for a president to have though! Keep strong and brave, Annette! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Barbara, never underestimate the power of people. While there are some politicians emerging who have a backbone, we need to keep pressure on those who have not dared to stand up for democratic principles. So much that’s happening now seems to be without precedent and people with legal expertise are facing the challenge of their lives. I loved that so many lawyers dropped everything and went to various airports to assist people who are being detained by the Muslim ban. However, even without that expertise, we can learn about political process and use that knowledge. For example, I recently learned how to access the Federal Register that shows all of the bills that are being introduced. Be well and thank you so much for commenting.

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  4. Donna King says:

    Wonderful post, Annette, on participating in something that mattered. (My niece also took part.) Resistance is a necessary response to any form of perceived tyranny. I think it is healthy that a sleeping giant has been awakened in recent times, and we have seen an upsurge in resistance reminiscent of the protests and resistances of the 60’s and 70’s. Those resistances (Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions – to quote the Gloria Steinem title) changed things. We need that spirit again. We, as a collective, had become too complacent (at least from my perspective). We can now see the danger of assuming that our work is done, when continuing to speak our truth more important than ever. As writers, we have a say in how reality will be shaped going forward. As people, we have the ability to be voices for resistance, now as then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Donna – yes, I felt that rebellious, resistant spirit during the Women’s March. It is an exhilarating experience and something that will hopefully fuel us through the inevitable slogging through the mud that’s ahead (heck, we are already in it). I think I have been pacified over the years thinking that signing online petitions was sufficient, and a town hall meeting here and there. Now I know better and am perfectly willing to commit time and resources to do more…Please feel free to share (even via private e-mail) what you are writing. I am curious and miss our intense writing exchanges at Kripalu.

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  5. Julie says:

    A wonderful piece, Annette. I hope you’ll continue to share in this space what you learn and do along the way. I thought your response to Laura, “It is impossible to separate these two areas of our life if we want to show up authentically,” was particularly true. Political correctness allowed an undercurrent to burn and now the fire is raging. Thanks for your courage (and inspiration) in bringing water to the fire.

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    • Thank you, Julie. I do want to keep my blog as a sanctuary for beauty and inspiration, respite from the “real(?)” world. Every once in a while, though, I won’t be able to keep my mouth shut and write a piece like this. 🙂

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  6. Thanks for standing up Annette. I keep wondering what might ignite my passion since I stand for peace and don’t resonate with “resistance” approaches. I know we need deep reform that brings power back to people and away from the controls of big money, insiders, the military and more. But how we do this, I have no idea. Personally, I don’t think the demonstrations, emails and calls will do anything to bring real change.

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    • I partially agree with you, Brad – many of the emails and calls are falling on deaf ears and people who have no business being in power positions are now in. However, the Ethics Committee that DT et al were trying to eliminate is still standing because of the outrage it caused. Even certain Republicans are now standing against some of the more outrageous proposals, two are opposing the nomination of DeVoss for Education Minister. DT now has over 50 lawsuits against him since taking office. The more we educate ourselves about the political process, the more we are able to call out the things that are wrong. I have a great distaste for politics (and most politicians) and have been on the side lines for a long time. Not any more. I hear about so many people who are full of despair and have past traumas re-activated. Only by pulling together and working together will we have the energy and cohesiveness to make a difference. I think this is a huge wake-up call, we cannot take anything for granted anymore, including that someone else will do the work for us. As the saying goes: We are the people we’ve been waiting for. I do hope that you’ll find some entry into this process that speaks to you and resonates with your values. Sometimes we have to fight a war to gain peace (sadly).

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Annette, I too had to decide if my piece about my experience at the Women’s March in LA, “fit” into my blog. I justified my piece because it is all about humanity and cultural immersion. I absolutely love this piece, Annette! Your passion for justice and beauty shines and encourages me to continue with a peaceful ruckus.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks, Annette for a thoughtful and well crafted essay on this important topic. I applaud your willingness to take a stand and I especially appreciate the power of your argument. I unfortunately was out of town during the march but made some partial amends by making a contribution to the organizers. No such schedule conflicts will interfere with my being at the marches set for Aprill 22 and April 29. As one who participated in the large marches in the early 70s and has followed other efforts such as the Occupy Movement a few years ago, I find it easy to disagree with those who say these efforts don’t bring real change. Civil Rights were won by those who marched in the 60s. The war in Vietnam ended sooner than it would have with those marches. Women’s rights improved more quickly than they would have if everyone had stayed home. Even the Occupy Movement had an impact; it established the concept of the 1% as a symbol of income inequality which was not a discussion topic anywhere until they set up camp on Wall Street and here in DC. But, as you have already pointed out, it takes more than an occasional march; it requires activism in other ways and each of us has to define our individual roles. It will not be easy and it will take a long time. But as Martin Luther King pointed out: The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. My last post on January was my first one that touched on this. I plan to do others in the future. I hope you will also write again on this when you have some insights to share. #resist

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    • Hi Robin – I am aware of 4 marches happening in the month of April alone. DC will be a very busy place :-). One of them will provide demonstrators with the additional pleasure of cherry blossoms in bloom! I may return for the climate march myself. I do think that demonstrations help to mobilize activating energies and then serve as catalysts for change. I know that there are many, many groups that have formed following the women’s marches all over the country, sharing information, planning strategies, and moving forward cohesively. That alone is changing how many of us are engaging (or re-engaging) in politics. I like your statement “…each of us has to define our individual roles.” So true, as we have different skill sets and also resonate with certain issues more than with others. If my heart beats for the environment, that’s the focus I’ll most want to spend my energies on. If you want to work on economic inequalities, then that’s where you need to go. There are so many issues at stake and our combined energies will have a synergistic effect. Now I have to go look for your late January post.

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  9. Yikes! Annette, there was a key typo in my comment; please add the letters “out” to the word “with” in the phrase “…..Vietnam ended sooner than it would have with….” Note to self: “Type once, read twice, then hit the send button.” Arggh!

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  10. Anarette says:

    It’s difficult to talk about the events that are happening right now in this country. You did it well. For me it is easier to share my frustrations, anger, and despair through poetry.

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  11. Kudos to you, Annette. I so admire the women marchers and love those posters. Let’s hope the momentum keeps going. I could hardly believe my eyes and ears when I switched on the TV and saw the election results. What a nightmare! 😯

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  12. I was there as well. I saw it as a beginning and an inspiration. Who would have thought that a Resistance in the US would be necessary in our lifetimes? It seems like something in history books, yet here we are. I would love your opinion my first attempt in blogging toward the resistance! 🙂 https://goldisfromaliens.com/2017/02/17/we-both-wear-spanx-and-other-things-i-have-in-common-with-donald-trump/

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  13. An inspiring blog.

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  14. Nice reflection and courageous alignment to what “is presently inside and around us,” as you declared a while ago. If there is something good with the authoritarian demagogue Trump, then it is that he accelerates some eye-openings regarding pre-existing and new societal perversions by carrying things to extremes, hopefully without too much damage though. Therefore I believe we’ll ultimately see a healing effect from this period, thanks to people like you standing up for a more equal and consequently better world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, you are so right. Just yesterday, I spoke with a rural Appalachian Trump voter who talked about how the 8 yrs under Obama did not help to lift people out of dire poverty, so, of course, people trusted in “change” promised by Trump. We are currently fighting a pipeline that our democratic governor is not speaking out against because he, too, has received funds from the energy companies. It doesn’t matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, as long as you can be bought by corporations, you are no longer representing your constituents. We had wars under the democrats – to feed the military-industrial machine; the middle class has become even more impoverished over the last 8 yrs while the upper .01 percent have enriched themselves on our backs. So, yes, these inherent issues in our capitalist, political system are not partisan – however, they are being exposed now to a greater degree, as you pointed out. Thank you so much for your comment and following Beauty Along the Road.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you very much for sharing your experiences. I agree that it is not necessarily a question of the political spectrum. Idea: Citizens should own everything directly, in a cooperative way so that corruption wouldn’t be that easy and democratic principles built into economy too (each stakeholder, instead of the shareholder, having one vote). Have a great day and all the best

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