I got my first spanking from my dad the other day.
At 33 years old, in public, on Facebook. My cheeks were burning red.
A few weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at making my personal Facebook page political. I’m a moderate among a litany of liberal friends and a concentration of conservative family members. I tend not to share my own thoughts.
When I borrowed a right wing political post from my father’s feed and shared it on my own in hopes of stirring up a conversation, I got some. It just wasn’t what I had expected.
The subject wouldn’t have mattered. It was a heated topic, and it could have been any one of the current many.
I called my father a good man and requested comments on the meme in hopes of gathering a little multi-side action. I was trying to connect the dots of where we became so divided—where the great misunderstanding was. I encouraged civility.
When I tagged him for his thoughts, he aimed and fired. I had pulled his trigger.
In his words, I had been tragically indoctrinated into the far left while attending my expensive university. I hadn’t expected the sticks and stones, but then I also wasn’t surprised.
This is a story of language and what a simple word can do to our minds, connections, and, eventually, our nations.
Resistance. It is everywhere. It is in the news and painted in graffiti along my walk home. It is plastered in all my social media feeds. And it breaks my heart every time I see it.
What you resist persists, or, as psychologist Carl Jung actually said, “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”
Now, wouldn’t that just suck if all the things we’ve been resisting in the political realm seemed to continue to grow in size? Hmm.
The word resist means to stand against. Psychologically, when we resist something, our focus is fixed on it. We reject that which is put in front of us and, as a result, the harder we fight and the more fearful or out of control we tend to feel.
In our personal experiences, if we resist long enough, our stance comes to defend out-of-date feelings and thoughts about ourselves. Our inner worlds become distorted.
It’s not that different when it comes to resistance in our politics.
In my own observation, the resistance of conservatives is concealed by our silence, whereas the resistance of liberals is revealed in our expression. When conservatives do speak, liberals overtalk them down. When liberals are quiet, conservatives remain the same. No matter what, connection fails to occur.
The problem is that, through the polarization of these individual brands of resistance, through this lack of communication, few actually get anywhere. And worse, over time, each comes to perpetuate thoughts that become stale and hardened—something we eat because it’s there, not because it is good.
There’s something more effective than this “standing against.” Resist has a fraternal twin—and her name is “persist.”
The two words share the same root—”sistere,” which means to take a stand. Whereas resist stands against, persist stands through.
“The way to dissolve our resistance to life is to meet it face-to-face.” ~ Pema Chödrön
How the flow changes! It’s the difference between immobility and dissipation.
Do we want to talk against an argument with our lover, or do we want to talk it through? Perhaps more importantly, do we want to see ourselves against our challenges or through them?
I can’t think of a single moment that I have resisted and received what I wanted from life. I can, however, think of several instances in which I was very persistent and got exactly what I desired.
When we choose to persist, it is not necessary to relinquish the basis for that which we were resisting. When we persist, we take a zealous approach to making what we want a reality—with little to no intent to back down. We push through doubt and other obstacles and meet them every day, until we have acquired that for which we have aimed.
Instead of choosing to fight, we choose to flow.
I imagine a pipe. Water runs in one side and out the other freely. Then I add resistance. The water backs up, and pressure builds behind it. If I take a pipe cleaner and press diligently at the clog, eventually it will exit out the other end.
This is the beauty of persistence. We make meaningful change instead of standing in its way.
But to persist means we, conservatives and liberals, women and men alike, must come to face our resistance—each other. And in persisting we must then listen to those who would block our pipes, for they inform us of where we may gently poke for them to soften.