Resist. Insist. Love.
Co-authored by Nikki Silvestri, Amy Hartzler and Hosan Lee
In our friendships, and with family and colleagues, we’ve been seeing a lot of resistance. Elders are taking up Twitter to comment on our current government. Daughters, mothers and aunts are attending marches for the first time. Our communities are concerned and angry.
This inspired a conversation among the three of us — a communications firm principal, a climate solutions advocate, and a tech entrepreneur — about the nature of resistance. When does it work? How does it work? How much is too much? What happens next?
In the end, we grounded ourselves in cycles. These are undoubtedly times of crisis. And even in crisis, natural rhythms of change and transition are at work. Destruction leads to creation; new creations are sustained; and when creations outgrow their relevance, the cycle begins again.
This is our meditation on how to approach these times. This is what’s keeping us grounded right now, so we can continue caring for ourselves and those we love.
Resist : Destroy
There is a difference between indiscriminate destruction and the natural (if uncomfortable) breaking down of one system, as it gives way to another.
Consider controlled burns in forests, where fires release seeds from pods, and clear out dense growth that crowds the next generation of life.
It is necessary and healthy to reject cruelty and inequality. We must oppose forces that prevent us from reaching our potential, as individuals and a country. We must resist the seduction of old assumptions, and stories that don’t align with the world we see or want to create.
Our basic perception of reality outweighs unscientific propaganda that suggests the natural world isn’t changing. From species loss, temperature swings and increasing drought to radical shifts in long-term agricultural patterns, our physical environment is signaling breakdown.
Man-made systems are also showing cracks. Ava DuVernay’s 13th and Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow expose our current system of mass incarceration for what it is: an extension of historical, systemic, morally corrosive (and taxpayer-paid) monetization of bodies of color. Meanwhile other aspects of the built environment — from schools and hospitals to roads and bridges — are in desperate need of resources.
As we see the ways our systems are not serving us, we are waking up: at last, a death to the apathy and overwhelm that has allowed so much suffering to persist. This is where the “how” of resistance becomes crucial.
Indiscriminate destruction and blind opposition breaks family, community and country apart.
Mindful, sacred destruction looks like the resistance movements we see rising up everywhere.
The #GrabYourWallet campaign is helping people avoid businesses and brands that provide direct financial benefit to our current political leadership. Our justice system is being activated on all levels, challenged by anti-democratic and unconstitutional rule by fiat, as lawyers flood airports to provide pro bono immigration support, and appointed officials defend the rights our founders guaranteed. Journalists continue to make fact-based reporting available for concerned citizens and neighbors, despite being labeled as “opposition.”
As we resist old paradigms, we can also watch for moments when creation arises. The disparate pieces of natural, necessary destruction begin to form different pictures, ones that breathe new momentum into existing efforts, and begin new weaving together.
When we miss these moments, we do so at our own peril. Destruction is exhausting, emotionally, physically and spiritually. We resist when we encounter threats to our humanity; when we fear for our children; when we are being physically harmed — all of which are happening to those we love right now. These grief-provoking experiences drain us. Fighting for our human rights drains us. Inevitable losses along the way can bring us to our knees.
Capturing the moments when destruction becomes creation is the salve for our souls that carries us forward. We see what we’re building. We experience hope.
Insist : Create
There is a fluid relationship between destruction and creation: they are in constant, natural rhythm. When one thing breaks down, something else emerges.
As we stand against what we know is wrong, we must also insist on what is right.
Perhaps you are one of the millions of people in this country being targeted by our elected officials.
Perhaps you have become slowly outraged and now activated to stand in solidarity with the overwhelming, crushing majority of us, who are not being well-served by current leaders.
Perhaps you’re motivated by your faith, recognizing that “pro-life” is not the same as anti-abortion, and reflecting on what it means to consider the conditions for life, all lives, in all forms — from immigrants and the unjustly incarcerated, to the natural world.
Perhaps you’re concerned about the resources we all rely on, no matter our color, wealth or politics, to provide nourishment, and the healthy water and land required for healthy people and places.
From gun control and immigration to healthcare, and even widespread disapproval of current leadership, most of us agree on a lot. Whatever motivates you — whatever it is that you insist on creating more of in this world — it is time to build together.
That means paying attention to other builders and supporting their efforts. It’s easy to become fixated on systems primed for destruction, especially in times of chaos and crisis. Ensuring that we recognize and lift up creation will ensure that we have somewhere to recharge our batteries and regenerate.
#LeadWithLove provides many channels for creating what we want, grounded in shared values. The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies supports leaders, entrepreneurs and investors who are building local economies that work for all. With Backing Black Business, Black Lives Matter hopes to build economic resilience in African American communities through an interactive database of Black-owned businesses.
The three of us build in our respective careers, and we love connecting with others doing the same. Amy’s firm, Do Good Better, accelerates the positive impact of entrepreneurs and NGOs through communications and campaign strategy. Hosan’s business, TABLETRIBES, connects people for face-to-face conversations that matter, in politics, family and life. Nikki’s firm, Silvestri Strategies, supports regional economic development that builds healthy soil and promotes social equity.
As we invest in creation, we also invest in ourselves — we sustain.
Love : Sustain
All of this — the conditions for life — a healthy balance of systems breaking down and new systems emerging — would mean little without love.
It isn’t light or easy, the stuff of teddy bears or heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. Love is what makes life worth living, and what fundamentally animates us. Love keeps us laser-focused on defending what we care about. Love becomes the toughest filter we use, when we consider what we choose to build, protect and share.
Love provides balance, in a world that is breaking down and building up. Love sustains us.
And this is the hardest part. New paradigms are still in their infancy — they need tenderness and nurturing to sustain and grow. And as with any stewardship process, this is not irresponsible or blind. This is a facilitative, wise love that maturely attends to conflict; that has the tools to stay in relationship through difficult growth periods; that understands the true nature of governance, that of compromise and generosity.
Sustaining life with love requires us to begin with our own blind spots, when faced with conflict. It requires an orientation toward stewardship over ownership.
Love requires care and tenderness toward self. It requires time for sweet looks with loved ones, for quiet moments with the sun, for putting children to sleep. It requires an understanding that if we attempt to destroy or create from a place of depletion, we risk breaking relationship and ourselves unnecessarily.
Signs of this love are all around us. Van Jones’ #LoveArmy is bringing together large and small conversations about the #messytruths of our country and finding ways forward. Today, Revolutionary Love is hosting a day of action to celebrate one another’s humanity as we call Congress and act to protect one another.
This kind of love is a practice.
This moment in time
Make no mistake. These are history-making times.
We can be wise as we steward the transitions underway. When we choose to flow with the cycle of destruction, creation and sustenance, we choose connection. We become nuanced and aware of when we are acting, or reacting, and how.
The risks of not doing so are real. They are personal, and at least one degree of separation from a neighbor, family member or colleague.
So, resist. Take to the streets. Vote with your dollars. Reinforce our struggling democracy. Support organizations and our judicial system, as they protect our most vulnerable neighbors.
And also, insist. Build and create. Look to local economic development leaders fighting to ensure well-being for all Americans. Invest in those working for equitable health and wealth.
And just as importantly, love. Sustain and persevere. Care for yourself now more than ever, fiercely and often. Protect the small moments of joy and laughter, to remember when you feel you can’t go on. Practice loving people while working to end their destructive behaviors — even if it’s messy at first, and again.
And then start over.
We are with you.