02/01/2017 07:14 EST | Updated 02/01/2017 07:14 EST

Are You For Or Are You Against?

Protesters gather at the International Terminal Arrival Hall of San Francisco International Airport on January 29, 2017 against President Donald Trump's Muslim ban. (Photo by Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NurPhoto via Getty Images
Protesters gather at the International Terminal Arrival Hall of San Francisco International Airport on January 29, 2017 against President Donald Trump's Muslim ban. (Photo by Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

At the Women's March in Washington last weekend, an activist handed my friend a sticker against fascism. She took it. But then said, I don't want this. I said, give it to me. I'm against fascism. But my friend planted a seed which I've seen echoed in D.C., NYC and back here in TO.

To be against something, no matter how vile, means that I am putting my energy and attention into a brick wall. Into a stand-off. To be against is to lend energy to that which I do not support. Let me explain.


Almost every moment these days seems like a moment of decision. Are we going to move for or against? Whichever way we choose shapes us as individuals and as a civilized people. Life has a way of landing us in these moments. Getting spat upon by our government seems like such a moment. Today, I'm calling on myself to resist for.

To be 'for' is a paradox of my resistance. Being for some things implies that I am not 'for' some other things. That's true. I am not for a few things: demonization, sexual assault, white supremacy, gross inequalities of wealth and power. I'm for civilized society, human rights and dignity, self-determination, access to health care, a living wage, redistribution of wealth, responsible custodians of the public's wealth and the body politic. I'm for certain values: compassion, trust, generosity and mutual support. And I expect our government to defend these publicly-held and shared values.

The current U.S. government, like others before it in that country and others (Canada's Stephen Harper, anyone?) holds as its values that we take our eyes off of each other and the concerns we share and stay tuned for the latest outrage. We are to stay repeatedly outraged.

A week before the Inauguration, the terrific Andrew Solomon, President of PEN AMERICA asked the gathered hundreds to pledge to remain shocked throughout the regime's reign of terror (see around 1:18). I refuse. I will not be shocked by the latest outrage. I accept and resist what is happening.

It is playing out exactly as was described in the campaigns, conjecture and so on. There are no surprises. Solomon was asking us to not let the outrages be normalized -- as is happening through the corporate media filters of clicks-for-cash. I'm not the leftie that eats its own but the use of 'shock' was ill-chosen. There's a reason that George W. Bush wished to attack the Iraqi's in a campaign of 'shock and awe.'

It's a saw as old as the fascist hills. Ask Mussolini. Ask Hitler. Ask Stalin. Ask Pol Pot. Their populations were driven to exhaustion and paralysis by a constant barrage of attacks of that held most dear. Left stunned and disbelieving by the dizzying spin of hatred, demonization and battles seemingly lost, we're supposed to give up. Or fight a little less. So the old saw says.

To be against means that there are two opposing forces usually at a standstill as they press against each other. To be 'against' misses the site of actual strength and resilience. Of actual power. You might think that the 'for' in my resistance is 'against'. That would be a misunderstanding. This is not just semantics. It's practical. And there is another way.

To be 'for' is to lend energy and support to that which we wish to thrive. It doesn't expend scarce resources into the brick wall stand-off of opposing forces. Life moves in one direction: forward. To be for allows us to draw from the infinite sources of Life-giving sustenance. To be for is the water drop of resistance.

It may not look like much but when gathered together, it's tidal. Turning our backs. Walking around an obstacle. Governing our attention and saying no. Putting the hand up and the foot down. Drawing a line in the sand and saying "not on my watch." To be 'for' isn't about winning. It's about Life evolving, progress- moving on.

It maintains the flow of attention and energy. Energy, attention, enthusiasm and action supports an idea, a concept, a policy, an activity or even a person. And, it lasts. Energy is created when we are 'for' the people in our lives and the communities in which we are embedded. To be 'for' implies a sustainable resistance. It is using one's energy and attention in support of -- not to eliminate or destroy anything.

We are going to have to maintain a tsunami-like force on this regime, and what comes after, for years. Probably decades. We have to pace ourselves. The regime is going to be lobbing fireballs at us from just about every quarter. Imagine a wave or current heading for a shoreline. A wave swamps whatever it washes over. It moves around and behind as it subsumes whatever is in its path.

It undermines and displaces things long-held in place. Its sheer breadth and force has the laws of physics behind it. Which is good for those of us facing a science-denying regime. By keeping our attention on what we are for resistance will strengthen. Take heart, to be 'for' science and critical discourse ensures that we will prevail.

To be 'for' that which amplifies and celebrates the human's capacity to thrive means our story ain't never going to be over. We aren't going anywhere. We will not back down. The fundamental paradox of being 'for' while in fierce resistance guarantees it.

Go for it.

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