On the Nature of Resistance #gov20 #opengov #egypt #libya #wiunion #miunion

As many of my friends both in the States and around the world, I have been struggling to understand whether resistance, as a way of living a purposeful life, is worth the challenges such a life brings.  Whether it is my colleagues in Bahrain, my friends in Egypt, my family struggling in Wisconsin or each of my associates in the Government 2.0 world, all of us have chosen to do something difficult, resist.  And the people who raised me, the community that formed my beliefs, the State that gave me every opportunity on the planet, made it all so clear to me these past few weeks.  Thank you Wisconsin for showing this proud son of your State, exactly why he does what he does, and in particular, in the way that he does.

Understanding the nature of resistance itself is helpful in understanding what is going on when we resist.  In electrical engineering the idea of resistance is crucially important.  Resistors make entire systems work the way the engineer intended them to.  (Interesting aside, the power rating of the resistor must exceed the anticipated power going through the circuit (dissipation) or the system will not work.  Argument well made for equal power being mandatory).  I think that makes a point that is worth highlighting:  Resistance is a necessary component of many systems in the world.  And in our overarching system, our society, without resistance, society itself, fails.

The examples of resistance are numerous.  From electrical (Ohm’s Law) to mechanical (friction) to biological (frost resistant plants) to investing (resistance levels on the price of a stock), each of them exposes the nature of resistance.  I think this is vital to understand when resistance is being applied in an unnatural way, as it is in politics today in some circles.  Resistance in these examples is not a resistance TO change but rather is a resistance to the existing nature of things (the dominant paradigm).  Car brakes stop the forward movement of the vehicle (friction), frost resistance allows plants to live through the dominant existing season (winter) and resistance levels in stock pricing pushes against either irrational exuberance or overheated short selling in a market for a security.  The resistor is necessary to put a check on the dominant paradigm to reinstitute balance in the system.

All of that is important as we, as resistors in one way or another, struggle with the pain that results from our activities sometimes.  It is difficult to explain the need for resistance when you land in jail as they did in Michigan this past week, or when you have to tell your kids why you are sleeping outside in the damn cold reaches of Madison Wisconsin, or when brave citizens in Egypt risk their lives … simply to ask for a voice.  It is important to remember that we need to do these things not because of some respect for theory, or to live a philosophically pure life, but rather, in order to restore the balance that all systems need to become and remain stable.  Resistance stabilizes the world.

But resistance has its price.  Electric resistors burn up.  Protesters wear out.  People get sued.  It is not fun.  It is not easy. And, as my extended family in Wisconsin always taught me…nothing worth having ever is.  It is the nature of our role, as resistors.  To make the system stable.  To stand in the breach.  To point out the wrongs.  To stand and to fight.  To not cede your ground. To resist.

Because the world I see reflected in my daughters eyes is worth every ounce of blood, sweat and tears.

Fight on, world.  Resist.


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One Response to “On the Nature of Resistance #gov20 #opengov #egypt #libya #wiunion #miunion”

  1. Allison Hornery says:

    Matt, another thoughtful post. This brings to my mind the complementary theme of reslience – disruption and resistance are essential to change in any system, and when faced with a need to adapt (or push back!) our capacity to do this is greater than we sometimes imagine.

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