In my life, it seems that resistance can come from three places. I want to talk about the third of those three places,the one where I think we may be required to dig in and become the resistors ourselves: internal resistance arising from our hearts.
In our search for truth and meaning, I come to realize fairly quickly that any truth and meaning that I find for myself intrinsically connects me to other beings. We may search within for truth, but as soon as we find it, truth causes us to look up and out where we see this web of interdependence. When we discover that other beings are being hurt and demoralized and treated with indignities, our own hearts rise up in resistance. Our voices activate. Our pens and votes and feet and wallets and creativity all move into action. This third kind of resistance which takes the form of a moral imperative finds itself in the messy position of ALSO engaging our egos (Part 1) and ALSO encountering external forms of resistance (Part 2). Engaging and working on behalf of our moral imperative may be impeded by ego stuff that we need to work on and let go of. Engaging and working on behalf of our moral imperative may actually begin by facing a wall that some external force has erected in front of us or others in the web of life. Negotiations may be required before anything else.
I have watched the disturbing unfolding of things in the Tennessee General Assembly this past week with particular focus on one young legislator, Rep. Justin Jones. I think this young man, a 27 year old African American newly elected legislator representing the city of Nashville, has found himself having to deal with all three kinds of resistance. He has been personally attacked in and out of public space for trying to represent his constituency. My own personal ego rose up in hot anger when I heard that, so I can barely imagine how he felt about those attacks. In attempts to encourage and welcome 10,000 youthful and peaceful protestors, he suddenly found the General Assembly invoking its rules of decorum against him (Part 2), and the attempts at negotiating with them resulted in his expulsion from the General Assembly. It also will likely mean that the City Council of Nashville names him the interim legislator which will allow him to navigate around that brick wall.
The real force of resistance here, though, is what is clearly rising up out of his heart, that moral imperative to hear the voices of young people saying, in the wake of another deadly school shooting, that they need their legislators to help make them safe by creating reasonable legislation around guns. “Children over guns” is the moral imperative, and ultimately that is the resistance with which he and others are digging in. It remains to see what this heart-resistance will produce. This kind of resistance, though, can transcend the ego. This kind of resistance can make walls irrelevant. This kind of resistance reminds us that we are not alone.