Small Acts of Resistance

Acts of resistance may sometimes be small, but their consequences are sometimes immeasurable.

Resistance can be national or local. It can span across years or simply months. Resistance can be characterized by its political affiliations or religious undertones.  It can take place on higher ground, the high seas or the online world. Resistance can be peaceful or violent. It can earn the brave a slap in the face or push them to perform the ultimate sacrifice.  Resistance can be of massive proportions, but it can also consist of a simple and small act.

It indeed was a simple and small act that lead me to Small Acts of Resistance[1]. A book standing up straight on its own, holding up tenaciously in a sea of books waiting for their chance in the limelight of the human eye.  An eye that would give its words life, a mind that would give its ideas their worth and transform them into beings in their own right with a chance to last forever.  As if communicating to me in a different dimension, the book, left ajar by the last hands that perused its pages yet wasn’t drawn to its spirit, chose me to bring it alive, and I heeded the call.

Small Acts of Resistance is a celebration of the human spirit, the defiant human spirit that, as its authors note, “can make the invincible crack, the unchangeable change.” It is a true call to bear arms, arms of patience, of resolve, of creativity, of words to do something that is just right…just and right. “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are, ” said Theodore Roosevelt, and although said in the context of a war, it doesn’t necessarily imply only doing whatever must be done with pistols and grenades.

The account gathers small snapshots of small acts in contemporary history. Arab Revolution aside,  we need not think too hard to find small acts much closer to our world, to our region, undertaken by people we know or can easily related to, which have changed and inspired us all.

For weren’t the numerous declarations of those calling for justice, freedom and dignity in Damascus, a small act of resistance the ideas of which are slowly coming to fruition today, in spite of all the bloodshed?  Did the fact that they were addressing a regime that would not tolerate such ‘disobedience’ and who often suffered imprisonment and intimidation as a result, make their cause not worth fighting for?

For weren’t the students of St. Joseph University in Beirut raising their voices against Syrian occupation a small act of resistance that signaled the end of a dark era in Lebanon’s history?  Did the case that their cause ran against the interests of countries supporting the occupation and who may have helped in ending such injustice make their cause less worthy?

For aren’t Saudi women defying the ban on driving in the kingdom a small act of resistance that is more an issue of human rights than an issue of transportation?  Does the fact that the kingdom’s financial and strategic might, whose actions have also been often overlooked by the world’s conscience make their cause less worthy?

For aren’t the Palestinian Freedom Riders who dared ride buses that are forbidden for their use a small act of resistance that takes their struggle for statehood and dignity into their own hands, away from those who have hijacked, used and abused their cause for so long?  Does the fact that the scene isn’t taking place in a southern US state in the mid 1960s by a Rosa Parks or Claudette Colin, and aimed at Israel, a country whose actions have also been too long overlooked by the world’s conscience make their cause less worthy?

Small acts of resistance are all around us, if we only keep our eyes open enough to see them. The Middle East and broader Arab world has seen its share of injustice and tyranny, at a par with the world’s most notorious, whether in communist Europe, Asia, Latin America or Africa.  No people have a monopoly on violence, barbarism and cruelty.  No people have a monopoly on the means of changing the unchangeable, of cracking the invincible.

Small Acts of Resistance has been an inspiration and has led me to ask what I do to resist what I believe is wrong.  In my contribution to the world around me, I look in my humble arsenal and only find a 0.5mm pen. With it I shed light, to spark a thought, to turn around a mind to look twice at the world.  To show courage and support, to hope, to change.  It may be small, it may take time, but this is what I know how to do best.

And you? What act, what small act, are you doing today?

[1] Crawshaw, Steve and John Jackson. Small Acts of Resistance.  New York: Union Press Square, 2010.

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