Lessons in Relational Justice, II: Resistance = Love = Self-Respect = Vision

 resistance

Resistance is Being Fully Me Without Shame

Sitting in the parking lot at a local Christian college, I wait for my son to emerge from a music festival and I observe other people and their cars.

  • the young guy in his baseball cap, zooming behind me, not watching for children
  • the mom in the SUV who eyes me suspiciously from behind Kate Spade sunglasses
  • the guy with a confederate flag sticker on his truck, blocking me in place while he chats with someone through his driver’s side window, shrugging off relational civility with the endorsement of: (1) his friend who can see me, and (2) his president, (3) and maybe his parents too

My first impulse? Half-smile and act nonchalant. Behave as if I blend in with the culture around me and I notice nothing that makes me the least bit uncomfortable. I do these self-camouflaging behaviors when I feel fear and shame. (And I realize my feelings have something to do with my bias – but also something to do with real things happening in my world.)

I think they can sense my resistance under my clothes and skin. People tell me I do a bad job of hiding who I am or how I feel. I’m part of the resistance and have been for at least 50 years.

Resistance and Self-Respect

It goes back to when I was five or six and my father hit me. I resisted him. He still hurt me, but he never took away my spirit or my will to protect myself. I held onto those and looked him in the eye. Emotional resistance saved my life.

Because Resistance is a form of love, it requires me to look people in the eye and smile as someone who really sees them without apology or fear. I see you . . .

  • with all your fear and beauty
  • with all your numbness and potential
  • with all your vulnerability and humanness

Resistance says: I notice you with your bad behavior and I still care about you.

I tried to telegraph these messages to other children being abused in the grocery store. “Hold yourself apart. Remember who you are. Keep that resistant self in-tact even when you’re being hit or told you’re bad.”

The same holds true today. Because resistance is a kind of vision, I say to my friends, “Hold your democratic ideals – even if only in your thoughts . . . because thoughts are things. Hold your vision of the world as you’d love to see it: where everyone feels loved and safe; everyone has plenty; trees and animals thrive and our Mother Earth sings.”

See if you can hold this vision for 30 seconds.

Now, you’re part of the resistance too.

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