Resistance

When I was young, I usually knew when something bad was about to happen. This wasn’t prophetic presidence, though, merely the fruit of experience. Some, I suppose, might call these events self-fulfilling prophecies.

One such example occurred in my final year of secondary school, as I headed for an entrance. We had two doors to choose from on that side of the school. One at the front, one at the side. The side door was closer to my ultimate destination, but I would always take the longer route.

That lunchtime, however, a friend caught up with me and insisted on us taking the short route. In my heart, I knew that was the wrong thing to do, but unheard in my opposition, I followed on. Sure enough, when we arrived, the waiting prefects would let my friend through, but not me.

Just then, like everyday, I was to be reminded that I was nothing, forever harassed for no apparent reason. A more benevolent prefect, knowing full well that I had every right to enter the building, intervened eventually to let me pass. At which point I swore at the first of them on my way through.

A second after that, I was sliding up the wall, his palm jammed against my throat, my feet off the floor, as he yelled at me about having respect. Yeah, I was wrong to call him a rude name. The first time I had ever been assertive, as it happened, usually timidly submissive in the face of harassment.

My friend, embarrassed, just wandered off. My assailant was one of his older brother’s close friends, so I suppose couldn’t intervene anyway. In any case, he probably thought I deserved it. I should’ve just let it pass, as usual. I’d eventually arrive at our classroom a few minutes after him, with thumbprints on my neck. We never spoke about that moment, but somehow I had been anticipating it.

In life, I have had a habit of taking long circuitous routes to avoid the conflict or intimidation that always seemed to await me. A habit which even remains to this day. Some would call this cowardice; I’d just call it avoiding trouble, knowing full well that I wouldn’t stand a chance.

But sometimes you have no choice. Once as a young adult I was confronted by youths with a knife on my return home one evening. I just had to push past them then, praying for the best. On another occasion, I was steamrollered into a wall by a crowd of bold youngsters, who knocked me to the ground to kick me in pursuit of my mobile phone and wallet. The excitement must have given them an adrenalin high. But for me: no, just more of the same.

Some, I guess, enjoy the thrill of dominating another. For others, it’s just a means of making themselves feel better about themselves, especially if they themselves have previously found themselves that lowly nobody, despised by society. Sometimes the bullied themselves become the worst bullies, convinced that their ascendancy depends on them trampling on others.

It seems that it demands a concerted effort not to become bullies ourselves. Maybe if I had been able to develop significant bodily strength or some kind of influence, I might have become one too, using my status to intimidate others. Fortunately, that wasn’t what I was called to.

I walk a path which say says remain humble, no matter how wealthy or influential you become. It says walk on the earth with humility. It tells us to respond, when the ignorant address us, “Peace!” In our tradition, the oppressed are not called to become tyrants. Certainly, the tyrannised are allowed to resist, but are also commanded not to transgress the limits.

Actually, the meek have a special kind of resistance, which the powerful will never understand.

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