Resistance Matters

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The only hopelessness is in giving up.resistance-matters-cover
The only hopelessness is in saying we are defeated.
The only hopelessness is in the refusal to take back and claim our power.

You are powerful. I see you.
You are beautiful. I see you.
You are terrified. I see you.

You weep, and wail, and take to your bed, and take the streets and hug and rail.

And then you take a breath.
And you take some time.
And you find all of the things that help you not despair, or not get stuck in eternal rage.

And you ask yourself, “What are my skills?”
And you ask yourself, “What are my talents?”
And you ask yourself, “What do I need to learn?”
And you ask yourself, “How can I be of service, in this moment, to this time?”

And then you look around and ask, “Where can I plug in?” or “How can I help organize?”

Use what you have –time, energy, and skill– and figure out three possible ways to offer that.

Do some research. Ponder.

Then pick one of those three things. Any thing. Not the perfect thing. Not the exact right thing. Pick one thing and try it for awhile. And learn how to control your ego so you don’t step back so far you disappear and you don’t step so far forward that everything becomes about your needs and your ideas. There are many practices that help with that. If you don’t already have one, find one. Meditation. Martial arts. Prayer.

And pay attention.

Black and brown and Native and trans and queer people have been telling the rest of us: these systems do not serve us, nor do they make us safe. Those of us who have not paid attention before? We need to say, “I’m so sorry I didn’t hear or see or comprehend you. I’m going to literally throw cold water in my face each morning and remind myself to pay attention now.” And “I will educate myself from the rich writings and resources available in my communities or in the library and the internet.”

Then we figure out how we can actively be of service to those who need us most (and sometimes that includes ourselves and our families). And we commit to it.

We figure out what solidarity means. Then work on making that possible.

People need food.
People need beauty.
People need skills.
People need care and protection.
People need to find ways to show up.

How can you help? How can we help?

Black resistance matters. Native resistance matters. Latinx resistance matters. Asian resistance matters. Trans resistance matters. Queer resistance matters. Immigrant resistance matters. Muslim resistance matters...

Your resistance matters.

Organizing matters.

What do you want to build? Figure it out. Ask your friends. Pray. Strategize. Train.

Act.

Include longevity in your strategies. How do we build-in self care, and rest, and breaks, and laughter, and music, and paying the bills, and sharing food and art? How do we get and remain as healthy as our particular bodies and psyches and families can be?

How do we say to our comrades, “I need a break, can you shoulder this for the week?”

How do we say to our cohort, “This feels like a problem, can we talk about it and figure it out?”

How do we say, “I’ve got energy right now, let me be useful.” Or, “I’ve got these skills to share.”

Movements sometimes get crushed and sometimes fail. They fail because of burnout or ego clash or other life events crashing in.

They do not have to fail or fizzle. And when attempts to crush them come –as they always do– we can recognize them and re-organize.

We can create interlocking avenues of support and resistance. We can create interlocking avenues to build what we desire.

So, after the initial assessment of “what can I do and how do I plug in?” we all must ask, “how do we build a living, flexible system that can grow and change with us, over time?”

It won’t be easy. But the alternative is to sink back into complacency, or hopelessness, or disinterest, or despair.

Please don’t do that. Keep finding ways to re-engage.

Don’t look for a savior. Don’t look to be a savior.

We need every one of us to do this. And those of us in relative positions of privilege need to listen to those who have been more marginalized. They have the most necessary input of all: how to live, survive, and thrive under systems that are hell bent on crushing individuals and communities. And how to continue to love, even in the midst of that.

We need love right now. We need resilience. We need wisdom from avenues we’ve never even thought to seek it from.

We need each other.

Please stick around.

 

T. Thorn Coyle, November, 2016

Resources:

Catalyst Project

Black Lives Matter

Resources for Organizing & Social Change

Organizing for Power

Peaceful Uprising

Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

Native Organizers Alliance

Trans Justice Funding Project (resource page)


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4 Responses to “Resistance Matters”

  1. Sea Serpent

    Thank you so much for this, Thorn. I am definitely sticking around, no doubt about it. The social justice movement has not seen the last of me.=)

    I hope this is not too long, but I have been following this election, and its aftermath, obsessively, and there is so much more I could say about it.

    One of the most remarkable things to me about this election is the fact that right now, as I type this a few days after the election, Trump is still facing numerous lawsuits. These include charges for fraud involving Trump University, and sexual harassment. I can’t help wondering if other candidates could get away with nearly as much, since it seems to me that such shenanigans, if made public, could disqualify someone from running for any type of office. True, other politicians have committed similar acts before or while they were running for office, but they hid them much better.

    On the night of the election, when I watched the results come in, I simply could not believe my eyes. When I saw he won, I was stunned, to put it mildly.

    Unlike many people I talked to, online and offline, I didn’t cry. I couldn’t. But I couldn’t sleep that night, either. I was in too much of a state of shock. I was so freaked out, I was practically climbing the walls. And I was frightened.

    I remember frantically googling Canadian immigration that night, finding their website, and learning how to apply for Canadian citizenship. In that same Google search, I saw some links that said this site had been down a few minutes earlier, which was probably while the results were still coming in and they were showing that the orange clown was winning.

    I also did a card reading asking my ancestors if I would be eligible to become a Canadian citizen. Calm down, they said. “But I need to know!” I kept saying back to them. “Can’t you just answer my question?” They kept telling me to calm down. One card said help for solving my problems would be on the way.

    I still have yet to fully understand what my ancestors and the cards were saying, but looking back on it now, I think they were telling me to wait and see what would happen, and to ask them this question again when I was in a calmer frame of mind.

    The next day, after the election, I knew I had to do something; though I didn’t know what. Then, when the shadows got longer and night came, I ended up marching with thousands of people in an anti-Trump demonstration in San Francisco. It was the first day anti-Trump demonstrations were raging all over this country.

    After I marched, I felt a lot better, though I’m still recovering from my shock. I’m much calmer now, though. My mind feels clear. But I know things will never be the same.

    To me, it is important to remember that Hillary Clinton still won the popular vote. Even now, a few days after the election, I compulsively keep looking at the results at CNN as new ones come in, and she is still ahead. If the electoral college hadn’t been there, she would be president now and Trump would have lost. There are online petitions to end the electoral college that people can sign. If you google “petition end electoral college” you will find a whole bunch of them. I know just signing one may not get much accomplished but at least it’s a start. Of course there is still a whole lot more work to do but it’s best to get the engine started and the wheels rolling now.

    People have been hoping and saying that maybe Trump didn’t mean all the bigoted policies he said he would carry out if elected on his campaign trail, that he was just “posturing.” Oh yes he did mean them, and he FULLY intends to carry them out. And he will, one way or another.

    I am including two articles that I think EVERY progressive and activist should read:

    Autocracy: Rules for Survival
    By Masha Gessen
    http://tinyurl.com/gtrm8wl

    Michael Moore: 7 Things We Must Do as Trump Prepares for the White House
    http://tinyurl.com/h2o6nh2

  2. Labrys

    Thank you, this is what I keep saying — we must keep trying. (If the poem is too long — feel free to edit it away)
    Dear Hillary and Barry

    I know you mean well, broken-hearted

    Don’t tell me to “accept” or bow down

    Don’t ask my mind to open and drop my brain

    For no, dear ones, don’t pretend normal

    This is not normal because now, now, now

    The barbarians are not at the gates

    They are in the bedroom, the kitchen, the bath!

    They are in the courts with their Book

    Rewriting our lives, be a “good slave” or else

    It’s like France being told the Vichy government

    Was really French and really governed

    They are in our heads chanting “your fault”

    They are blaming us for willful stupidity

    That they fostered in “useful idiots” to win

    Saying we lack sympathy for those they use

    When they will throw away their minions

    Use, abuse, and discard like human kleenex

    Resist, believe, say NO – though there may be chains

    How long would you have chains last?

    Your life? Or your grand-childrens?

    Please, do not “hasten to behave“!

    Pin your heart tight to your sleeves

    Sleeves of brown coats or purple dresses….

  3. A Week Tomorrow | Steel Kachinas

    […] is done, I remembered to water houseplants.  Life will now go on.  As Thorn Coyle said – Resistance Matters!  But so does taking a bit of recovery time to absorb the shock, process the fear, and find a place […]

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