Tiny Acts of Defiance, and Hope

As a preteen, I grew up with an alcoholic stepfather. When he stopped drinking through AA, his meeting life life morphed into ours with Al-Anon and Alateen meetings. The one day-at-a-time message was pretty well hammered into me. Of course, at the same time, the TV show “One Day at a Time” was running and I had a major crush on Valerie Bertinelli. So, one day at a time became a lifestyle. (Which later became one datum at a time.) There were times in life when one day at a time was not strong enough and I had to just focus on just hour at a time.

As a follow-up to last night’s post on Hope, I want to say something about the little acts of defiance that can create hope.

Hope is action. Hope begins with defiance. Once you begin to defy that which threatens you or darkens your life, you can begin to find hope.

Start by getting up each day. The desire to hide in bed, to feel you can’t face the day, can be incredibly strong and seductive. Sitting up, putting your feet on the floor, and standing (or moving to your assistive device, defiance applies to everyone) can be the bravest act of defiance one can make.

Know what you believe in. Search, talk to people, learn, for God’s sake, read! So much has been written about freedom, courage, and hope, there is no reason not to be able find inspiration. Literature, music, performance arts, and fine arts can all inspire defiance and hope.

Push against the wind. Step sideways into it. Move into shelter. Or just stand against the wind and be a shelter for others. Just help someone.

‘Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form
Come in, she said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm
And if I pass this way again, you can rest assured
I’ll always do my best for her, on that I give my word
In a world of steel-eyed death, and men who are fighting to be warm
Come in, she said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm

-Bob Dylan, “Shelter from the Storm”

Do acts of sabotage. Toss your shoe into the machine. Do work that causes others to question what they think they know. Most of us have a greater ability to change the world than we realize. One small act of kindness, one small act of defiance, can set an avalanche of change in motion.

Save a book, or many. Save recordings and scripts. Ensure that the art of defiance and songs of freedom are always available.

Don’t be silent about injustice. More importantly, learn to recognize it. Once we begin to see injustice, we will get to the point where we can no longer be silent. It’s the ability to turn our heads, to ignore injustice, that permits silence. I once read an article on relationships that advised men to “learn to see the coffee cup.” In other words, clean up your own mess or just generally, by seeing what needs to be done and doing it. It’s a great start to saving a marriage for both parties. Or a country.

Be your own hero. Recognize that when you get up and do what needs to be done for the good, you are a hero. You are modeling for others the behavior we all need. You are letting others know that they are not alone.

You are my hero when you do these things.

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An’ the poet and the painter far behind his rightful time
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

-Bob Dylan, “Chimes of Freedom”

2 thoughts on “Tiny Acts of Defiance, and Hope

  1. Pingback: Fearing the worst, and hoping for the best | Donna Lanclos–The Anthropologist in the Stacks

  2. Pingback: Stories and heroes | random data from a tumored head

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