Resist

We’re using this word a lot these days. Resist. From the Latin resistere, meaning re (expressing opposition) + sistere (to stand). Resist. Stand against. Resist. Stand.

Where to stand at this moment? Where to place calls today? To representatives to save the EPA, progenitor of such good work in our lifetimes? To the Department of Homeland Security, to advocate for an intact and qualified National Security Council? To the governors and senators speaking out, to thank them for fighting the good fight? To Dial-a-Prayer? To all of the above?

Now it’s going to dusk on a rainy day. Now I go out to walk the neighborhood.

The afternoon is hushed. The cloud cover keeps away the deeper chill we get on clear winter days and nights. Sandbags still line my neighbors’ yards since the last storm, when the rains came all at once and transformed our street to a river. The water deflected from most of the yards and flowed  over asphalt in a clear sheet. Today’s rain is light, not coalescing into flow, not moving small pieces of debris still arranged in tell-tale lines from the past flood.

As I climb a hill beside a stand of oaks, the quiet of this hour sinks in. I settle into it and decide  I want more of it. The walking becomes an act of peace.

I’m not in the world that I’ve been writing about all day, where conflict is the goal on every page. I’m not in the tense life I read about last night in a book of essays I couldn’t put down. I’m not in the costume-drama backdrop of a PBS production I thought I might tune into later. I’m not in the frenzied act of scrolling through discouraging news articles, either. I’m not making the resistance phone calls yet. I’m here.

There’s only this quiet neighborhood and the surprising peace.

To continue to do creative work is tough when rights are in danger and voices must be raised. To turn to the act of creation when a tyrant is working hard to advance his interests and those of his friends takes serious compartmentalizing. Turning from the noise of it all is a radical act. But it has to be done to keep up our strength up for the fight. We turn back to make the phone calls, carrying our work as a warrior carries a shield. We knit our well-considered words into the many. If there are enough of us, they resonate. Or at least we’ll go down swinging.

To return home I pass little houses with lights on in their windows. A neighbor has weeded his garden since the last storm, giving it a fresh look. A friend who built a new deck over the weekend stands in his shop set back from the road, wiping sawdust off his clothing before he goes inside for the night.

Coming home. No place like home. Dorothy has been on mind, her encounters with fear, confusion, and mean streets on the road to Oz–one of literature’s best-known detours. In the journey she found courage, heart, and smarts, embodied by the friends she met. By her side the Lion earned his badge of courage. The Scarecrow got his diploma proving his brains. The Tin Man got the heart. The point was, though, that they all got a piece of all of it. You don’t get courage without heart–it’s the very root of it. You don’t acquire learning all on your own. You don’t love alone. It was a group thing.

I reach my gate. The lights on my bridge guide me. I clear my mind as my friend down the road has swiped his shirt and jeans. I’m ready for those phone calls. I’m ready to resist. It’s a group thing. Stand. Resist. Courage.

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