On living the resistance
So far, I’ve focused on criticism. In part these omissions are due to my sense that criticism of our culture as a whole is lacking. We are happy to criticize those who disagree with us, and especially their leaders. But the idea that, if only we got rid of a list of, say 20–30 top Republicans, we could usher in a Democratic paradise is absurd. So it’s not a matter of saying how much better it is to vote for someone other than Trump, Pence, etc.
I have also avoided economics. While I have some understanding of economics, I am by no means an expert. The fundamental trap of those advocating for societal change in economics is that, while the flaws of capitalism are easy enough to recognize and point out, it is difficult to get very far without an alternative system in place. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, there have been no prominent alternatives to capitalism espoused; only variations of capitalism. I don’t have any alternative to offer either, at least in terms of some grand system.
One thing I have talked about is starting small. “Resistance begins at home” one might say. So must a new society and a new economics. You aren’t going to get anywhere by trying to replace money or the profit motive or the corporation as economic realities for the billions of people on this planet. But you can change your own motives.
Timothy Snyder has given us his tips on living in these times, and I commend his book On Tyrrany to you. But there is more: how to live into a new society. This advice is offered without distinguishing between economic life and social life.
- Treat other human beings as you want to be treated, i.e. as fellow human beings. I get that this is basically the Golden Rule from Christianity, but similar ideas have popped up in many other religions, too. And it doesn’t mention anything transcendant in it at all.
- Give what you can to those who need it. The greatest distortion of social life comes when those who have much are too focused on their right to what they have and their quest to make more that they don’t notice those who need what they have plenty of. This is a matter of distribution, sure, but it’s also a matter of the first tip: you aren’t treating your fellow human beings as fellow human beings when you tell them to suck it. Not only that, but this is the start of new economic realities, or in reality old ones: giving to those who need to establish networks of people who help each other out.
- Care about things. Ideally this would be everything, but that is not realistic at all. But find some things to care about, and do so deeply. They don’t have to be political, though some should.
- Put people before all else. Do your best to keep relationships going. If someone makes politics a stumbling block, that’s on them. Don’t subject yourself to dehumanization, but don’t reduce others to their opinions.
- Love. Love deeply and without holding back.
- Live. Depending on circumstances, you may have to curtail what you make public. Within the confines of personal safety, however, live your life boldly and truly, not in fear. Live life as fully and deeply as you can. Ireneus of Lyon said, “The glory of God is the human being fully alive.” Even if you don’t believe in God, live as an example of this.
- Be true to yourself. Don’t play a role just to get along. You are more than an employee or a customer. You are certainly more than just another complacent drone.
These times will try our hearts. We will only succeed if we be our best selves.