The Power of Resistance | Teen Ink

The Power of Resistance MAG

By Kathryn P., Cumberland, RI, Cumberland, RI

“Non-violent resistance implies the very opposite of weakness. Defiance combined with nonretaliatory acceptance of repression from one’s opponents is ­active, not passive. It requires strength, and there is nothing automatic or intuitive about the resoluteness required for using non-violent methods in political struggle and the quest for Truth.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi’s words about resistance have influenced many, but I learned the same lesson in a much more familiar environment: my second-grade classroom. There, I was first introduced to the concept that perhaps I wasn’t as great a person as I thought. I was sitting in class learning about the Civil War. My teacher told us about the people who opposed slavery, and said something that has forever changed my outlook on what it means to do the right thing. She informed us, obviously using simpler words, that those who see an injustice happening but do nothing are just as guilty as the oppressors. Although I was only eight, those words greatly affected me.

Impressionable second-grader that I was, those words stuck with me as if permanently glued to my brain. My mind raced back to every moment when I had seen a kid teasing another mercilessly in the schoolyard while I had just stood idly by, glad I wasn’t the target of the cruelty. Kids are kids, and I had seen bullying countless times. Did I ever so much as think to stand up for those who were picked on? Sure, I felt bad for them, but I wasn’t willing to risk my oh-so-fragile second-grade social status for another kid. ­After all, I wasn’t the one hurting anyone, so I ­assumed I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

I don’t remember the rest of the lesson that day. This was truly my second-grade epiphany – I looked back on every moment when I could have helped someone but didn’t. I found myself noticing every time someone was teased, and I tried my best to ­divert attention from my less-popular classmates. Sure, I was no Gandhi, and I still had moments when I could have helped someone but didn’t, but after this, I was aware that ignoring any injustice is wrong.

Now, seven years later, this lesson from elementary school holds an entirely different meaning for me. I have realized that it applies to countless situations. Throughout history, this idea is what kept many great figures from ignoring the problems of their time. Resistance is sometimes simple, but if no one questions injustice, chaos and corruption can occur.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” This idea is powerful because it shows that not only is resistance important, but it is required to be considered a responsible citizen. Often some fail to recognize the importance of taking a stand, and indifference has ­allowed a lot of corruption to occur throughout history. Franklin’s attitude toward resistance was the exact mentality that was condemned by Hitler, as well as other dictators. Dictators rely on people to disregard their own views and replace their opinions with those of their leader. When people do not question authority, power often becomes corrupt.

Hitler himself said, “What luck for the rulers that men do not think.” Often people neglect to think about, or simply regard with indifference, the events happening in government. This is dangerous because it leads to power falling into the wrong hands.

Looking back on history, it is obvious that resistance is required for societal change. However, in the context of today’s problems, people are hesitant to take a stand because they lack the courage to resist authority. Also, with an unknown outcome, resisting doesn’t always seem like the obvious choice.

People often think, “I’m just one person.” This is the attitude that permitted Hitler to stay in power for over a decade. I’m sure that every person who disagreed with his policies but did nothing was thinking that they were just one person. But their good intentions were not enough to stop the Holocaust. It takes action to cause change. While my second grade ­example may seem insignificant compared with genocide, injustice of any kind is wrong, and needs to be stopped. Resistance is proof that there is still freedom of thought in the world.

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This article has 18 comments.

on Dec. 2 2010 at 7:49 am
this was a good article and everything you say is pretty much right... thanks for writing

Tomboy GOLD said...
on Jun. 9 2010 at 12:29 am
Tomboy GOLD, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
13 articles 0 photos 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The human heart had hidden treasures; in secret kept; in silence sealed; the thoughts; the hopes; the dreams; the pleasures; whose charms were broken if revealed" - Charlotte Bronte

makes me think.  i love reading articals with this type of thought.  thanks for wrighting it

on Apr. 16 2010 at 10:19 am
SecretNonConformist SILVER, Marblehead, Massachusetts
6 articles 0 photos 195 comments

Favorite Quote:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of
evil is for good men to do nothing."
-Edmund Burke

"Bless the children, give them triumph, now!"
Aeschylus, The Libation Bearers

this is really good! Thanks for putting something like this out there.

Montherieth said...
on Mar. 13 2010 at 4:14 pm
Montherieth, Hyattsville, Maryland
0 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
I have many favorite quotes, but I'll list just one for this site...

"The whole thing is a f**king illusion."
-Peter Joseph

Fantastic article. Kudos. =)

on Feb. 19 2010 at 8:58 pm
PaperPlanes BRONZE, Henderson, Nevada
3 articles 0 photos 29 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see it." -Confuscious

Thank you.. Thank you very much for this article. Many times people try to do the right thing, and I feel that sometimes the most simple doings of good they can do are simply ignored. I myself am guilty of this. I thank you for helping me see this subject from a different point of view.

on Feb. 19 2010 at 2:42 pm
Wow, what powerful words. (:

on Feb. 19 2010 at 10:30 am
toxic.monkey SILVER, Tashkent, Other
6 articles 0 photos 210 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Homo homini lupus"

very presuasive! this is definately one of the best pieces of writing i've read today.

on Jan. 6 2010 at 7:53 pm
Shambler92 PLATINUM, Buenos Aires, Other
37 articles 0 photos 65 comments
you should read Heny D. Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" which greatly influenced Gandhi. It's a very short essay, but amazingly influential.

computergirl said...
on Sep. 17 2009 at 9:55 pm
Your message is very powerful. People need to respond to injustice and stand up for what is right. Excellent work!

on Feb. 28 2009 at 4:15 pm
robrobrobin11 BRONZE, Concord, New Hampshire
4 articles 2 photos 25 comments
This is an amazing message. I love the fact that you chose to include quotes from various "big names" in history. The fact that you backed up your opinion with evidence made it a really successful opinion essay.

I think it'd be amazing if maybe you took the last 2 sentences and combined them with the 2nd to last paragraph making that your conclusion and putting the beginning of the last paragraph with the other "Hitler stuff" before.


drama BRONZE said...
on Feb. 28 2009 at 1:50 am
drama BRONZE, Louisville, Kentucky
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments
i feel like i can relate because everything you said is most definately true! This has made me realize the difference it would make if we all just left each other alone. it doesnt matter if we are different. thank you for that inspirational piece! job well done

on Feb. 27 2009 at 6:49 pm
good job with the paper... but what have you done to change anything i hope youstay true to your ideals

a dark time is comming i hope you stay true

cutie96 said...
on Feb. 5 2009 at 3:30 am

KitKat said...
on Jan. 28 2009 at 8:02 pm
i can relate. i had this teacher who had no idea what he was doing. i, like some others before me, stood up and said something about it. everyone gave me a hard time about it because he had a mental breakdown like a month later. i just told them that it wasn't only me saying something, plus he was a bad teacher and was addicted to caffeine(he popped pills in class). he was going to break down eventually either way, the rebellious kids just helped along the way.

librarygal said...
on Jan. 28 2009 at 5:32 pm
Excellent essay, Kathryn. It is our responsibility to resist our social institutions when they promote injustice and oppression. Thanks for helping spread the word!

Sahar_SaiD said...
on Jan. 6 2009 at 7:14 pm
I believe in resistance as well and I am behind anyone who has a positive message like that! Keep on stepping and have faith.

on Jan. 3 2009 at 7:40 pm
This is a great work. One person can be the resistance. And others will join in.

on Dec. 1 2008 at 4:32 pm
i completely agree with you. this is great work. this influenced me greatly, thank you.