Resistance. If you’re like me, that word has an enormously seductive power. In the face of an unjust, broken world, not to resist would mean to accept reality as it is. To refuse to accept it, to refuse to allow others to experience it, to do all you can to create a better world despite the darkness that surrounds, is truth. It is brave. It is important.
But there is a missing piece that I am worried the new generation of resisters may be missing, something that can only be addressed by something that has become more and more dismissed over time.
The thing about fighting against evil is that it requires that we are good. To fight against evil does not make you automatically good, although it can result in good. But, more often than not, history has shown us that many who have fought evil end up being just as evil. Sometimes more.
And so, even in our lifetimes, we’ve seen so many oppressive regimes brought down only to become another oppressive regime.
Some could argue that those who supported Donald Trump saw something they considered to be true evil and so felt that there was cause was so just it didn’t matter how they fought, only that they won. Only that their enemies were destroyed.
Before you chose to resist Donald Trump, there were people resisting the government we had. And now we are in a worse place than our country has ever been.
And so, this idea of resistance, it needs to be addressed. It needs to be examined. We cannot simply fight against. We must fight for.
Fighting against Trump is one thing.
Fighting for justice is another.
Fighting against racism is one thing.
Fighting for equality is another.
Fighting against demagoguery is one thing.
Fighting for democracy is another.
Of course, each one is necessary for the other. Fighting for equality is impossible without fighting against racism. Fighting for democracy is impossible without fighting against demagoguery.
But they must coexist, they must work together. Fighting against something is so obvious because it is right in front of us, it is an obvious thing that all who wish to can see.
But fighting for something is much harder. It requires imagination. It requires that we envision a world that doesn’t exist. We must ask ourselves to hope. We must see light in front of us instead of only the darkness that envelops.
This is why we must revive our spirituality.
You do not have to believe in God or to be part of a religion or conform in order to be spiritual. Spirituality is simply the experience of seeing that which does not exist. This is the essence of belief in God, but it is also a simple function of any human who lives.
Sadly, the reliance on things like data, hard sciences, experts, and other such things has crippled much of society’s spirituality. And so all we see is what is in front of us, what can be measured, what has happened before.
The very essence of using data to understand the world is that we use the patterns of the past in order to predict the future. This is a great way to do many things, but it is not the way in which you fight for a world of equality, a world of truth, a world where all are innocent, all is pure, all is good. Because such a world has never existed. And so there is no data that will lead us directly to that place.
Instead, we must be willing to dream. We must go into a part of ourselves and see utter perfection, truly walk around in it and live it. We must inhabit it at all times, it must become part of us.
When we do that, when spirituality infuses us to the point where we can actually see that which we dream of, when no amount of evil corruption around us, when no cynical data-pointers can convince us it’s not possible, then suddenly our resistance will be something truly incredible. It will be a fight for something, and every action against something we do from then on will be in service of that greater for.
It sounds ethereal, and it is. But we’ve seen it so many times throughout history that we do not dream to know its truth.
What are the most famous words of Martin Luther King Jr.?
“I have a dream…”
Not data, not reality. A dream.
Martin Luther King changed America forever not only because he fought against the powers in the world, but because he infused everyone around him with that dream. He didn’t want people to just think about getting rid of the horrific racism that existed around them. It wasn’t just about getting blacks to be able to sit in the front of buses.
No, it was a world of such equality that it extended into the mind of all men. So that a person would look at someone and see beyond their exterior and into the “content of their character.” That is, if one truly understands it, a truly messianic message. A message that has motivated generations of activists since: the refusal to simply accept one victory, but to fight to the ends of the earth for true earthly equality.
This is not a coincidence: it is directly connected to the spiritual vision of Martin Luther King and so many other visionary leaders of the time (and before).
From the Dalai Lama to Abraham to Bob Marley to Gandhi to Tolstoy, the greatest protestors of all time were all deeply spiritual. Because they didn’t just fight what existed, they dreamed of what could be.
And so, as we fight Trump, we must ask ourselves: “What world am I looking to replace his with?”
We’ve allowed ourselves to get so caught up in the fight against that we’ve almost completely ignored the fight for.
And if you think that fighting for the world we had before is a viable solution, you are sadly mistaken. The world we had before was broken too. The world we had before is what created Donald Trump. The celebrity worship. The division, anger, suspicion of the “other.” These, and so so so many other things, led to a sick demagogue coming into power.
And so we must not just envision what we had before, we must dream of something impossibly better. There is no going back, there is only what lays in front of us.
Dare to dream. Dare to tap your spiritual existence. Dare to imagine that which has never been.
Because although things like a world of perfection (where the innocent are protected, where no one gets hurt… where… whatever you dream…) may seem like they are just your imagination running away with itself, the true lesson of spirituality, religion, and any leader that has infused us with a dream, is not that they exist in only our imagination.
No, they actually do exist. They are more real than any piece of data, any orange demagogue. That is why they are worth fighting for: they are eternal truths. And so if we fight against, we only destroy the temporary but do not bring about the eternal.
But when we fight for, our dreams are no longer dreams. They are just a revelation of that which was hidden.