Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Resist; is very much a first world luxury word- Spirit of the Poor

I live in Seattle, Washington. I am Caucasian. I have a house and a computer. I can go to the store and buy food to eat. I know how to read. I can vote. My children attend public school. I live in the first world. And I can ponder the theme "resist" for Spirit of the Poor.

Resist. That really is a first world dilemma. We have the right and ability to resist many material things and yet large corporations would rather that we didn't resist. They would rather that we spend ever last dollar on their products. On one shoulder we have a little voice telling us to "buy buy buy" and on the other shoulder we have the little voice shouting "no! resist resist resist" And it isn't just material products, there are foods and beverages that fall into this too. On one had women are supposed to be stick thin because that is some weird ideal and on the other hand we are also supposed to be eating all the fast food our hearts desire because the commercials tell us so.

Honestly I can't keep up with all the crazy commercials these days. If I happen to be watching a program on network television I mute the commercials immediately. And that is my right. I must say that watching the muted commercials is still rather horrifying. There are some weird products out there these days, all of which are quite unnecessary.  I am pretty confident in my resistance capabilities against commercials.

But again this is all just a first world problem. If I lived somewhere out in the third world I would have far less opportunities to have to resist or need to resist. If I lived in a hut where I had to walk for miles to collect safe drinking water I doubt that I would be pondering if I really needed to buy a flat screen TV or those McDonald's $1 menu items that look so tasty in the commercials.

I think I would be hoping my children make it to adulthood. Or praying for enough food to get us through the week. The word resist is a luxury of those of us who live in the first world and have time to think about such things.

7 comments:

Susan Schiller said...

When I think of resisting, I think of resisting evil...it could be envy or jealousy or whining or anger. It's a quality of being, I think...

When I lived in the third world, I noticed there was so much more love. I listen to stories of poor people, who don't have the first world benefits... and I'm humbled and amazed at the wealth of their stories.

It makes me wonder if having the spirit of the poor goes beyond practical matters... and into heart matters.

Like you say here, there is quite a difference in how we think of the word, "resist" depending on if we are 1st world or 3rd world. You give me much to consider - thanks!

Luna Indigo said...

That is so true Susan. Whenever I have left the first world and spent any amount of time in the third world I always notice just how much joy, happiness and giving people are. They have less and yet want to give you more then they have. I am always humbled by this because many people who live in the first world would never even dream of acting this way to a stranger let alone a friend. Protection and greed seem to rule the first world.

Esther said...

I think you're right that our VERSION of resist is very much our own. But I don't think the need for rising/creating movements that resist oppression is all our idea. Or even our idea at all. We would do well to see how Haiti became a free nation in the first place, from a slave rebellion, or how Nicaragua overthrew their dictator. It's almost like they're having to ACTUALLY resist, rather than write blog posts about it. :) We need a kind of "there is no spoon" brain change to see the difference.

Luna Indigo said...

I'm not saying the people who live in third world countries don't resist but here in the first world that word is EVERYWHERE. It is just a difference I have noticed.

There have been some great revolutions that have happened all over the world that we cannot ignore. It is part of the history of this world.

Joanna Hoyt said...

Also, perhaps, resistance here is safer...
When I saw the title of your blog post I remembered being at summer camp and circulating a petition (the first in the camp's history, I was told) against what looked to me like an inappropriate use of authority. I was twelve or so and rather proud of myself. A bunch of campers signed. Then a younger girl, a Latina, whose courage and composure I had admired all week, came to me in great distress insisting that I remove the signatures of her cousins from the petition. I didn't understand why she was so upset, but I did what she asked. Later I was told that her family had come to the US as refugees after some relatives were disappeared for standing up to a highly unjust regime. She came from a place where resisting could get you killed, not just ostracized. I had not really stopped before then to consider how much easier my life was.

Emily Heitzman said...

Wow, this is a really interesting conversation here.

I think there are so many different layers to this. I agree that it is a privilege for those of us in first world countries to be able to ponder, write about, and think about resistance, and that it is safer for many of us to actually resist. However, I also agree with Esther that there are many people who have and continue to resist in countries where their livelihood is dependent upon it. I believe that those of us in the first world have and continue to learn a lot from those around the world who have and do resist so boldly and bravely… Look at Arab Spring, the Nigerians who are protesting the schoolgirl kidnappings, and so many others named and unnamed in this conversation…

Many of the families I work with are refugees from Burma, and several of the youth and children I work with have parents or other relatives who are continuing to stand up with the resistance groups in Burma in order to resist the regime's forces that are ethnic cleansing their particular ethnic groups. And there are many similar types of situations around the world.

It's definitely an incredible privilege that we don't ever have to worry about this type of oppression and violence and that we don't have to worry about being killed or tortured if we choose to rise up.

Thank you for this conversation. It's overwhelming how easy our lives are, and it's so important to be reminded of this daily.

Newell Hendricks said...

I think that global capitalism has made our theme of resistance a global issue. I have become quite close to a subsistence community in Nicaragua where I see the same temptations as we face. TV has entered the village since I first went in 1996. Comercials on TV are just as powerful in Spanish as in English. And there is the temptation EVERYWHERE to leave the community for workk, to the city, to Costa Rica, or the U.S. Esther was on a delegation listening to youth talking about resisting the temptation to emmigrate; they articulated extremely well the choices of material betterment, or valuing their culture, their families, and their communities.
I too have experienced the wonderful spirit of the poor in my beloved Dulce Nombre de Jesus, but I have also seen what global capitalism has done to the commyunity. I see most children being raised by their grandmothers because their mothers have left the community. It is not for me to tell them to resist, but it is for me to demonstrate resistence in my own life. We do learn from each other.
I agree with Emily that this is a very rich discussion. Thank you for putting the question of "is this a first world issue" out there for us to talk about.