Resistance. This is the word that is circulating more and more in this climate of political turmoil. And I am right there with you alongside millions of others who refuse to accept small-mindedness, bigotry, hatred, and injustice to reign the day. I stand with you, I hope to march with you, and I most certainly believe that at this time it is essential that we stay very awake and present, refusing to fall back into apathy and powerlessness. However, I want to challenge some of the language being used in this movement, for our thoughts and our words do indeed create our perception of reality, and the greater consciousness we bring to this, the more effective we will be.
In my own journey of personal healing, I have often faced an idea presented by Carl Jung: “what you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.” In my most lucid moments, I have certainly become aware of this ~ as I have sought to push away the parts of myself that I have not wanted to accept, they have simply resurfaced more fiercely when activated. And as I have sought to push away people and circumstances that don’t fit my ideal world, the same qualities are mirrored to me in other people and circumstances. Ultimately, there is no escape. We humans tend to like the idea that we are in control, and that we can simply press “delete” and make things go away through either ignoring them, or through control and suppression. In reality, we simply don’t have that much control, and most of the time, we hate that. And so, we resist, and with equal force, what we resist pushes back against us. And on and on it goes.
This is not the recipe for understanding, resolution, or meaningful change. Just as much as we claim we are “resisting” the forces of small-mindedness, bigotry, hatred, and injustice, those very forces are rising up to fight back. Just the same, those who are resisting our movement toward equality, justice, freedom, and positive change, WE are rising up to fight back. And this, my friends, is war. This is the very energy of the battlefield: opponents pushing up against each other, attempting to use force to dominate, and the one with the stronger army wins. But truly, does the one with the stronger army win? Or does that “side” simply dominate for a time, while the underlying forces that are suppressed and ignored simmer and prepare to erupt once more? We have seen this happen time and time again in history, and are seeing a strong example of this again now, with the current administration. The fact that we could have a government filled with people who are religious zealots, misogynists, white supremacists, and a cadre of shamelessly self-interested and unethical bankrollers, all of whom are aiming to dismantle the American democracy is *proof* that these forces have not been healed, only hidden, and now they are erupting into a festering nightmare.
The masses are clear that this must not be allowed, that we must do everything in our power to make sure that the integrity of our nation is not destroyed. The desire to fight back is so very strong and primal. However, if we have learned anything, it is that we must rise above the habitual ways that we respond to things, and make conscious choices that will carry us forward in a positive and intentional direction. If we understand that resistance will simply lead to the persistence of all that we want to change, we must find a new way of thinking about it, and new strategies in stepping forward. Our intention is clear: this? NO! But our process of making effective change? This must be understood and transformed.
Part of the challenge lies in the language. Resistance. This word conjures up images of clenched fists and angry faces, a strong battlefield of pushing against. And while it feels so natural to fight against injustice, we will ultimately continue to feed the persistence of the forces we wish to transform. In this fight, we engage all of our energy for what is clearly a righteous fight, but it seems to me that our energy could be redirected simply with the shift in our language. In turning to the thesaurus to consider the opposite of resistance, a few words are worth consideration. Compliance? Conforming? These are clearly not the intentions of this movement of change. These words simply point back to the suppression of others, the disregard of one side of the conversation, forcing it back into submission. Cooperation? As hard as it is to imagine right now, this must become a goal of our movement. For it is only in unity that we will be able to find a way forward that includes the needs of all of us. And so, the word Liberation seems most appropriate in this context: the Liberation movement. As I sit with the idea of Liberation, I see a bird cage with an open door, a bird flying free, and relaxing into a sigh of relief. With Resistance, our energy is bound and entangled in a fight that may never find resolution. But with Liberation, we find free-flowing energy, and an open space of possibility that allows room for something new to arrive.
In the shamanic process of soul retrieval, fragmented and lost parts of ourselves are welcomed home, held in love and understanding, and wounds and pain are healed. As difficult as it is to imagine those people in this administration as fragmented and lost parts of the collective wholeness, this is exactly what we must do. As challenging as it may be to open our hearts and minds to hold the collective pain of those who hold the opposite values as we do, the only path of true, healed resolution requires that we do exactly that. The only way to find healing and evolution as a country is to come to a sincere and meaningful understanding of all sides of the conversation. And it is up to those of us who have done enough of our own personal growth and healing work to hold the space for the bigger path of growth and healing work to happen now. There is no one else who will do it for us. It is our responsibility.
And so, I challenge you to this. Sit down each day and meditate with the intention of welcoming a dissenting person into your heart and understanding. Allow yourself to fully explore that person’s perspective, and stay open to really receive what comes, free from your own opinions or judgment. What common ground do you share? It may be challenging at first, as it seems that there is NO common ground at all! But under the surface of ideas and opinions, we are all longing for the same things. And if *we* want others to see us, regardless of our race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender identity, sexuality, education, economic status, and beyond, we must be willing to see them too. There may always be people who refuse to enter into this process, and while that is disheartening, we must accept it. However, as we step forward into this Liberation movement, we have the opportunity to engage *real* people in finding common ground. Lines and boundaries are erased as we come to know one another and care about each other’s lives, families, and freedoms. Accepting each other, of course, doesn’t have to mean that we accept all behaviors and beliefs, and there are undoubtedly things that must be healed and transformed, as suppression will never succeed. Ultimately, power is indeed in numbers, and as we intend to find common ground and come into unity with our whole American family, a very deep healing is possible.
As we find unity with the full spectrum of our brothers and sisters and friends in this country, we will dissolve the mentality of “us vs. them.” As this unfolds, it will be less and less possible that we will choose to elect officials who seek to systemically disenfranchise, reject, and discriminate against people, as we increasingly embrace the words “We The People” – WE doesn’t mean “we, but not you.” WE means every single one of us. This is the vision I choose to hold going forward from here, and the vision I will stand for in this movement of change.
I will leave you with the beautiful words of a Persian Sufi mystic:
In the market, in the cloister – only God I saw.
In the valley and on the mountain – only God I saw.
Him I have seen beside me oft in tribulation;
In favor and in fortune – only God I saw.
In prayer and fasting, in praise and contemplation,
In the religion of the Prophet – only God I saw.
Neither soul nor body, accident nor substance,
Qualities nor causes – only God I saw.
I opened mine eyes and by the light of his face around me
In all the eye discovered – only God I saw.
Like a candle I was melting in his fire:
Amidst the flames outflashing – only God I saw.
Myself with mine own eyes I saw most clearly,
But when I looked with God’s eyes – only God I saw.
I passed away into nothingness, I vanished,
And lo, I was the All-living – only God I saw.
~ Baba Kuhi of Shiraz