I’m no electrician, but when I ponder resistance, I continually hear in the back of my mind some old lesson from a physics class. It’s about electricity and resistance. My simple understanding is that as electricity tries to move through something, it meets with a certain amount of resistance. The more resistance it meets, the more difficult the flow of electrical energy is. When electricity meets with resistance, it converts into heat. High resistance makes for high heat.
In those terms, I begin to understand my own experience of resistance. Various kinds of things that come with emotions (energy) try to move through me all the time. When they move through with ease, there is little resistance, if any, and I probably don’t even notice it. If I do, I consider it a pleasant experience. Laughter, joy, happiness and gratitude are like that. If I resist the energy flow, I notice heat building up in my body as frustration, anxiety, and anger. The greater the resistance, the hotter my anger can become. What do I do with this building heat?
We’ve seen at least one model I’d like to be more like on the international stage recently as three elected officials in the state of Tennessee faced public shaming, disrespect and humiliation from many of their elected colleagues. Surely, being talked to in disrespectful ways, having your rights and powers as a legislator stripped from you, and being publicly interrogated as someone being charged with unfitting behavior created resistance in these legislators. Two of them were stripped of their positions in what appears to be racists actions. And yet, they showed up in public with calm, ease and with voices proclaiming hope. How did they do that? I think they found ways to lower the internal resistance and use that heat in ways that would move them and their constituents forward. I suspect that was pretty exhausting, too. They did not suppress the heat. They transformed it into something useful.
I want to be more like that.