Progressive Christian Social Action
Resistance for the Long Haul
In this new year, I have been hearing people talk about how bad 2017 was (politically), and hoping that 2018 will be better. Many people who have not been active before have worked hard last year to resist the Trump Administration and the Republican agenda. The current state of the nation and world makes it almost impossible to focus solely on one’s personal life.
That’s a good thing, because our neoliberal society would have us believe that we are separate and self-sufficient and that we can find fulfillment by escaping into our personal lives, focusing on ourselves, seeking our own comfort, and feeding our own appetites. This enables the dominant institutional Powers to divide us and discourage us from taking communal action that could disrupt their attempts to dominate the world. Besides, that is not the way to happiness.
There are hopeful signs. Many people are refusing to be sidetracked, and are continuing with the struggle. Several Republicans have been unseated due to election upsets. This coming Saturday, there will be anniversary marches around the country, recalling the huge Inauguration Day demonstrations that took place last year.
I have a sense, though, that people are exhausted. It’s hard not to be discouraged by the constant barrage of presidential tweets, the acceleration of harm, hate and scapegoating, surveillance and repression, and the ongoing “dismantling of the administrative state.” We face tremendous dangers, and many fear that we are descending into fascism, runaway climate change, or even nuclear war.
How can we sustain resistance for the long haul? I have found that I need a spiritual foundation to keep going, maintain a positive attitude, and live in hope of both personal and social transformation. In other words, resistance must have an inner, as well as an outer, dimension. This involves spiritual and cultural awakening, remembering who we are as children of earth and Spirit, prayer as an “uprising against the disorder of the world,” resistance and contemplation, and the conscious practice of simplicity.
I have written about these themes in the context of progressive Christianity in Resistance and Contemplation, an excerpt from Chapter 17 of Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization, first published in 2007. A revised, updated, and expanded Second Edition will be released later this year.
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