Resistance and Mass Hysteria

One of the things a writer realizes when she first becomes aware of her own Resistance—her internal, diabolical pull toward self-sabotage—is that it’s a dangerous world … not just “out there,” but “in here.”

The good news, she realizes, is that if there’s Resistance (the negative), there’s also her unique genius and her one-of-a-kind gift (the positive.) 

If there were no gift, there’d be no Resistance.

She, the artist, begins to realize that she was put on this planet for a purpose—to discover who she is and to offer her gift to the world.

Realizing this, she is compelled to acknowledge that OTHERS (in fact every other) are also unique and also bring one-of-a-kind gifts.

Which brings me to our nation’s Capitol a few days ago.

Some individuals, it seems, are unaware of their own Resistance. They’re unconscious of it. It works on them nonetheless. The result, in political terms, is that they can be convinced by external persuaders that their brothers and sisters are NOT unique and bear no special gift for the community. 

In nationalist terms, such individuals may come to the conclusion that they are the “real” Americans … and that others are not.

They may come to believe that they can press their knee on George Floyd’s neck until he can no longer breathe. Because, on some deep level, they believe that they are “real” Americans and that George Floyd is not. Therefore George Floyd deserves no protection of the law, no respect as an individual, and, in the crunch, no right to live.

Beyond that, such individuals may be convinced that they, being “real” Americans, are entitled to have their votes counted, whereas others are not real Americans and thus may be disenfranchised, no matter what the facts say.

This line of thinking first appeared (or at least achieved wide notoriety) when a certain individual declared that the United States’ first African-American president was not a “real” American, whereas he (this individual) was.

Resistance. This force will eat your guts if you’re oblivious to it. It will kill you like cancer and make you commit acts that, seen in the light of reflection, you would be ashamed of and appalled by.

Are you “special?” Are you “real?” Then everyone else is too.

Where do you get the nerve to decide that your vote counts and mine doesn’t?

You get it by being blind to the forces inside you.

Wake up! Face your own self and find the gift you were put on this Earth to deliver. You’ve got one, I promise you.

Put down that DON’T TREAD ON ME flag and look in the mirror.

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68 Comments

  1. Marrije on January 13, 2021 at 2:46 am

    Amen, and thank you for saying this.

  2. Mary Doyle on January 13, 2021 at 5:00 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you a thousand times for this powerful post!

  3. Peter Brockwell on January 13, 2021 at 5:41 am

    Good work Steve on biting the bullet and speaking up about this. And this latest misadventure is only the most recent in nearly a half decade of disgusting corruption and nest-feathering, lies and manipulation. I am British but I love the USA very much, and the depths to which this individual has brought your already-great nation during the last few years has been distressing. Not to say that we haven’t had our own trampling of decency, fairness, honesty and good sense (Brexit) over here.

    I like very much how you’ve related this all to Resistance. Insightful, as ever.

    Let’s remember, that it’s also the social media that these people are reading that is responsible, not just ‘that individual’. Those people are reading in their news feeds about completely different reality, and critical thinking, a la Neil DeGrasse-Tyson, does not come readily to the brain of Homo sapiens.

    • Dave Linn on January 13, 2021 at 8:22 am

      The British man is on point. You are correct that the behavior of people, in power and out, has been a bit concerning lately. The thing I want people to ponder, is that the media only reports bits and pieces of what’s taking place, and even what’s reported might not be the truth. The concern as I see it is that we are quick to judge, point fingers, “parrot” inaccurate information, without actually verifying the very things we are riled up about.
      This year I am going to look deep inside for peace and understanding, hopefully I can then have some input for solution. At the very least, lead by example from a non judge mental angle. Thank you and God Bless America.

  4. Paul J Triller on January 13, 2021 at 8:02 am

    Timely and brilliant. Thank you.

  5. Joe on January 13, 2021 at 8:03 am

    Good words from Steve. I’m a little at a loss to know what to add or how to comment. Some key things I see above are “being blind” versus “waking up.” Recognizing that this illusion of “Otherness” is at the root of so many of our ills.

    Is it possible to hold transgressors accountable, show that the rule of law means something, and still move toward reconciliation and a feeling of unity?

    My wife got me a Daily Stoic desk calendar for Christmas. Today’s:

    “We control our reasoned choice and all acts that depend on that moral will. What’s not under our control are the body and any of its parts, or possessions, parents, siblings, children or country — anything with which we might associate.” — Epictetus (Discourses, 1.22.10)

    • Brian Nelson on January 13, 2021 at 9:20 am

      Joe,
      I think you’re wearing some Sage robes yourself. Nicely said, as usual.
      bsn

      • Joe on January 13, 2021 at 10:15 am

        Just trying to stay warm, Brian. 😉

  6. Randy Gage on January 13, 2021 at 8:05 am

    This habit of dehumanizing others works great in the plot line for your fictional villain, but destroys your soul in real life. Thanks for speaking truth to power.

  7. Calvin G Beam on January 13, 2021 at 8:06 am

    Artfully said. Thank you.

  8. Angela on January 13, 2021 at 8:09 am

    WOW—thank you very much, Steve. Your clarity and putting this in terms of our individual gifts has given me a new lens for seeing some hope in all this.

  9. Rock Kendzior on January 13, 2021 at 8:10 am

    Big love to you for this one.

  10. Scott Whisler on January 13, 2021 at 8:10 am

    This is good stuff. Very much in line with Jung’s observation: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

    • Brian Nelson on January 13, 2021 at 9:31 am

      Scott,
      Probably my favorite quote by Jung.
      bsn

  11. George Carpenter on January 13, 2021 at 8:13 am

    Dear Steve,
    I respect and salute you to taking an open stand on where you stand. Doing this easily puts you in a difficult spot when confronted with those that may disagree with you. I have also been wondering about where art is and what my place in it all is amidst everything that is going on. One other note on this subject. I have found that resistance is so insidious that I think it is important to remember that art for the sake of helping to bring your own potential to light and to help in turn hopefully inspire others to bring theirs to bear is what it is all about. With the amount of noise in the air it can be a challenge to discern the signal from the rest. I have also seen artists become so polarized in their views that I have wondered if they have lost sight of what lies beyond this world and what gifts the muse is asking them to bring here. I am not suggesting that this is being done here but I think it is worth noting that resistance can take your eyes off of doing the work and onto TiK Tok for 9 hours, CNN for years at a time, and perhaps twisting your art that was not meant to have a specific political bent but to transcend politics and to bring the transcendent here. Thank you for this post and thank you for providing a place where we can search for the way beyond the fog of war of this world into who we are supposed to fully be.

    • Brian Nelson on January 13, 2021 at 10:16 am

      George,
      Great insight.
      bsn

    • Gloria Mullvain on January 13, 2021 at 1:35 pm

      Thank you George Carpenter

  12. Peggy Jo on January 13, 2021 at 8:15 am

    Thank you, Steve. True words. Me, I am feeling lost. Lost in the battlefield trampled by the lot of men. She returned to the dust her gift lost. Lost, trampled into the dirt, useless. A gift never opened nor appreciated. Lost.

  13. Bing on January 13, 2021 at 8:16 am

    Well said. Solid, straightforward and yet compassionate. Good on ‘ya, Mate!

  14. Jule Kucera on January 13, 2021 at 8:24 am

    Thank you, Steve.

    I can use this as a litmus test–“Is what this person is saying supportive of the idea that we are all unique, special, and deserving of respect, or does it obliterate that?” And I can ask that question of myself, when I am tempted to Other the other who is Othering me.

  15. Gigi Blackshear on January 13, 2021 at 8:24 am

    Sir,
    There are no words to express my gratitude for this post. I have been searching for the “right” words to express my heart on this matter and only found them here. You truly are my hero. Continue to lead and I will follow.

  16. Bethany Reid on January 13, 2021 at 8:29 am

    What did Chekhov say, about depicting the horse thief? You can’t just say, “he’s bad,” but have to go deeply into the heart of it, and understand. That’s truth. Keep seeking it.

  17. Jennifer on January 13, 2021 at 8:31 am

    Oh wow, I wholeheartedly agree with this. You have to wonder if Trump has any resistance at all. He’s holding on to something he has no control over (his presidency)… I’m sure that’s resistance, and it’s a shame he wants to mislead Americans, knowingly. Being a truth teller, and supporting all Americans… that’s beating resistance!

  18. Sweta Das on January 13, 2021 at 8:35 am

    Thank you for shinning light on the dark forces whose survival only depends on silence and secrecy.
    I think looking in the mirror is uncomfortable because we often see our own shortcoming; we feel disappointed to see where we are when compared to our expectations of where we think we should have been.
    A quick remedy for us is to simply project it outwards, in other words, blame it on someone. And most of the time, blame it on someone who does not look like us, on someone who appears to be different than us. This is the crucial time when active guidance and wisdom from figures of light can make an accumulative difference (to me, Steve’s blog post and Arnold’s video are doing just that).
    The brave thing to do, I think, is to face our self in the mirror and continue forward in our own path of self discovery while integrating all parts of us. No internal conflict ~ no external projections. But I am not sure if it is possible to achieve a state where we have no internal conflicts?

  19. Ann Marquette on January 13, 2021 at 8:36 am

    Well said Steven, and thank you.

  20. Brian Nelson on January 13, 2021 at 8:42 am

    The proverbial can of worms…

    I hadn’t thought of 2020 in terms of Resistance. A Perfect Storm. Everything in life politicized. Narrative overpowering facts.

    I came home from yoga last Tuesday night, saw the trends in GA, and decided to take to a digital detox. I limited my web surfing to 4-5 websites void of current events. Serious withdrawal symptoms for the first few days but after 8 days, I feel much better.

    Two books helped me push politics into its proper perspective: “The Righteous Mind” by Jonathon Haight and “Our Political Nature” by Avi Tuschman. I think Haight’s book is more accessible, but he explains the origins of values, religion, politics from an evolutionary psychology perspective. In short, we are pre-disposed to our political beliefs.

    Another way to think of it might be from the Big 5 personality traits. Most psychologists would make the case that while not fixed in stone, our temperaments are pretty solid over our lives. I think politics is essentially temperaments at scale.

    Sebastian Junger discusses “Our Political Nature” on a Joe Rogan podcast, which is how I learned of the book. It is a good interview. I encourage others to find it. Sebastian said he believes he’s ‘hard-wired right, but his experience has made him more left of center.”

    My thinking is this: Those who left the wire 50,000 years ago to hunt or defend the tribe were generally not thinking about how to evenly distribute the food among the tribe while walking back to the cave. Most likely, there were discussing the hunt, AARing the day. Once they returned, it was someone else (maybe the women, maybe the dude painting on the cave, maybe those caring for the young) who reminded them that they need to share. Are either of them wrong? Of course not. The Tribe needed, and still needs both to survive.

    I drove out of Costco on a beautiful sunny Saturday this past August. A BLM protest popped up blocking all intersections. As I changed lanes to turn right out of there, a car zipped up and blocked me in–it was then I noticed 6 men at the low-ready with AK-47s, AR-15s, and other long guns. This was my own personal experience with a ‘mostly peaceful protest’–at the end of automatic rifles.

    In a nano-second or less, I was back outside the wire in the Khost bowl of Afghanistan, except I was without kit. I have never felt so threatened stateside. In short, I went from thinking about the rest of the day, to ready to conduct combat operations. I was able to drive up onto the sidewalk and get away, called 911. The dispatcher said, “Well, it is open carry…are they threatening anyone?”

    I asked if she meant threatening as an adjective or a verb. I felt threatened. I will not share my thoughts in that moment, they were too raw, too angry, too primal. Not my best self.

    It feel like we are a nation who has chosen revenge-porn as our Modus Operandi instead of understanding. The feelings of self-righteousness, anger, outrage are so contagious and deceptively alluring that we have driven ourselves to a precipice. It saddens and frightens me.

    When I first learned of confirmation bias maybe 10 years ago, I turned off all cable news, talk radio, and chose to listen to books instead of news. Even sports have become political, so that is not even a safe refuge.

    I like how Steve frames this as Resistance. When we see others as others instead of just different manifestations of the same 4-letter combination (A, C, G, T) reflecting ourselves back to us, we lose our humanity.

    People need to be seen, and they need to be heard. I was indifferent to criminal justice reform until I had to pick up one of my best friends from jail in Seattle. He got a DUI. I had never interfaced with the justice system before, didn’t even know I could purchase a bail bond. I pulled out $1000 and drove to Seattle to bail him out. Seattle might be one of the ‘whitest’ cities in the US, and yet when I entered the jail–I was the only white guy not in uniform. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Where do we police? I thought. This was 2012.

    Earlier that year I had a chance to speak at a TEDx Tacoma, it was quite an experience. One of the speakers gave his talk, he was a black guy and ended his speech by pulling his hoodie over his head. This was during the Travon Martin timeframe. I remember (sadly in retrospect) that TEDx wasn’t the place for political statements. I chose not to listen. Maybe if I had, and maybe if millions of Americans had–police reform, criminal justice reform, war on drugs, the roots of crime/opportunity, culture–maybe all of that might have looked different this summer.

    “Chasing the Scream”, Johann Hari’s book about the war on drugs is a good place to start. The war on drugs should end yesterday.

    When people do not feel heard nor seen, violence and force are normal outcomes.

    Big Tech silencing the right is dystopian. Apparently some animals are more equal than others.

    We need IDs to get on a plane, buy a beer, buy a joint, cash a check, do almost anything in today’s world, but not to vote? There are some who will be very comfortable with health ID cards proving one’s vaccination, likely the same people who don’t think it should be required to vote.

    The answer to these Americans is “Shut up and color.” Where does one think this will lead?

    I don’t know where we go, but I do think Steve is right in that is starts with our own battles with Resistance. I am appalled by what happened last week, but not surprised. For me, I’ll stay on the digital detox. I will try to pull myself out of the strong currents of todays narrative.
    bsn

    • Joe on January 13, 2021 at 10:21 am

      If I try to distill your thoughts down together with Steve’s, Brian, it might be to say that the more we recognize these are internal battles, being expressed externally, the better off we’ll be. Or at least the more we’ll be capable to manage our own emotions.

      • Brian Nelson on January 13, 2021 at 1:52 pm

        Joe,
        Again, the Sage. I was thinking about this in responding to Katie below. I think the better I exhaust myself fighting my own Resistance, the more at peace I am to engage with the world. Maybe there just isn’t any fight left, and I’m accepting of the world as it is.
        bsn

    • Katie on January 13, 2021 at 10:37 am

      Just want to thank you, bsn, for your comment which gave me great pause. Particularly your experience with both the BLM protest and bailing out your friend. I grew up in a Fox News W-lovin’ family, voted for Nader, dabbled in Libertarianism, tried desperately to get Bernie on the D ticket twice, marched in BLM protests, and I’m livid about Jan 6th. But I dare say I have feels for all the sides and it’s the competing experiences along the way that really put me on the struggle bus.

      By “sides” I mean people who’ve been pushed to the edges because they don’t feel heard. And by “feels” I mean I’m torn because I want to shut these insurrection-inspired people down, but I know how detrimental that will be. And as you wrote, “When people do not feel heard nor seen, violence and force are normal outcomes.”

      I don’t know what to do about the fact that these groups (far left far right) have been pushed so far away, one doesn’t hear the other anymore even though they’re actually shouting about the same thing (elitism and caste keeps everyone down). And I don’t know what to do about the squishy middle group who wants to put walls up by taking tech et al down so they don’t have to listen to either of these fringe groups. I also don’t know what to do about enabling white supremacy by trying to empathize with them and cater to their regressed-needs because that’s what we’ve been doing for centuries and I’m sooo over it. And I don’t know what to do about establishing punishment for those who don’t play by the rules when the rules apply differently depending on the color of your skin.

      No one’s listening anymore because people are afraid that listening is what got us into this mess. Who do we trust when we can’t trust media (that includes the analog, too!) let alone ourselves? To use Mark Manson’s Everything is F*cked metaphor, who are the ones in the Clown Car? Is it all of us??

      Hope lies in comments like yours. We must retrain ourselves to see the world in all sorts of color tones and shades, never black and white. We can think and even accept two opposing, nonbinary, seemingly hypocritical, practically multi-dimensional thoughts at the very same time and it won’t make our brain implode. I believe this is the Resistance we battle with, especially in these polarizing times. But truly the only way to do this is to continue to soldier on in the mess that is our humanity – so we continue to dabble in these lived experiences that color our world rather than polarize it.

      And it is on that note that I must inquire — if shutting down tech, censoring, banning is bad for our greater Democracy, wouldn’t digital detox be bad for our personal democracy? Shouldn’t we just try to get better at absorbing and deciphering the input in order to accurately assess and distribute the output? I don’t know, food for thought. But thank you (and, seriously, your BLM protest experience will stick with me – thank you for sharing and thank you for your service.)

      • Brian Nelson on January 13, 2021 at 1:41 pm

        Katie,
        Wow, what a response. Most of the time on this blog, I respond in a ‘stream of consciousness’ manner, which is what happened today. There is so much coolness, wisdom, authenticity, & vulnerability in your post–that I had to read it a couple of times before responding. My first thought was, “I love you.”

        I am so grateful for your post–it made me feel heard today. I can again re-sheath my long knives and hopefully respond to the world with open-heartedness and compassion for the rest of the day.

        About the detox, you’re right on the money. That said, like an alcoholic who is freshly sober, probably not wise to enter the bar with your old besties when you only have a 24 hour chip in your pocket.

        I need to build some internal strength and resolve by avoiding what drives me crazy for a while. I think Bing is on the money with throwing oneself into creative projects. Much of my own angst this past 9 months has been wrestling with my new pivot in my business, some thoughts about really entering the arena and becoming naked before the Gods (podcast & non-fiction book idea I’ve been contemplating…), and exhausting myself with purpose-driven action each day (and PT) before I re-engage the world from a place of balance and fortitude (the fortitude I mean is what you said about comfort with ambiguity, cognitive dissonance, the seemingly hypocritical) grounding to be my best self amid the fray.

        In HS and college, I spent my summers at Camp Jack Hazard as part of the kitchen crew, assistant counselor, and counselor. Camp began (leaders week) in the middle of the NBA finals each year. I was 75% jock, 25% academic at the time, and to leave without knowing the outcome killed me. I was away from the ‘noise’ (no radio, no newspaper, no television) for about 80 straight days each summer. One shower a week, and the only music was what cassette tapes (1985-1988) people brought with them.

        I didn’t have the language nor personal insight at the time to recognize what happened to me in this ‘detox’, but when I came back to a VERY dysfunctional/violent home and school–I was at peace for a few months. I was able to ‘dance’ with the world without fighting it. Self-reflection wasn’t my thing back then, nor for the next 20+ years. I’ve only recognized this in the past decade or so.

        I think I’m trying to create my own summer camp for a bit. Ween myself from the dopamine producing reactivity effect the legacy & social media have on me.

        There is also a sense of civic-responsibility that will compel me to rejoin the fray. Isolation is not the key–in fact, I’d argue that our isolation has only added fuel to this current situation.

        I wish I could write in a more concise language, but that’s not my style. This is my way of saying thank you very much.
        bsn

        • Katie on January 14, 2021 at 2:56 pm

          Brian! Wow x2 – first time caller, long time listener – I don’t jump into the SP comments too often, so thank you for YOUR response here. Tons of love backatcha! And, holy cats, isn’t this exchange a microcosmic lesson in how the rusty ol’ cogs of a seemingly cold and broken world could get some much needed grease?! “Hey, I’m kinda alone and hurting.” “Hey, I see you. Maybe I don’t agree with all the things, but I can listen to you.” “Hey cool, thanks, I’m kinda not as alone and hurting anymore.” “So you’ll re-sheath your long knives?” “Sure, today anyway!” “Rad. Me too. I’m happy we had this chat.” /And Scene.

          24-Hour AA Chip – YES, great observation! And pre-question: when’s the best time to actually go into digital detox? Is it when you’re completely sh*tfaced from gulps of Twitter lying in a pool of your own keyboard rage? Or when you’re wracked with guilt the following day? Or is it post-bender Day 2, when you’re at least slightly more clear-headed about detox decisions? Asking for a friend.

          I think we’re in the same headspace in terms of diving back into Creative Projects as a source of fulfilment (while ensuring it’s not just a distraction from our frustrations). I’m curious about your angst AND your ‘becoming naked before the Gods’ world! In 2019, I myself had this engaging side art project – “Resistance Rebels” – aptly inspired by and named for one Mr. Pressfield, which when Covid hit, I so ironically rebelled and resisted due to exhaustion and run-of-the-mill pandemic ennui. And then the guilt. A project that was supposed to lift me up ended up tearing me apart. I’m only recently coming out of it.

          And THUS, your “summer camp” metaphor (or what I’ve been calling my “Gap Year”) is like the best visual image ever. It reminds me of this book I just finished, Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller (the StoryBrand guy) when he talks about spending time in the forest with hippies away from his conservatively religious friends and colleagues. Then he went back to those people and was able to maintain the zen for quite some time, despite world-on-fire. So yeah, I think I’ll shift my previously enraged “This World Needs an Enema” (to quasi-quote The Joker) to “This World Needs a Summer Camp.” Remember when quarantine kinda gave us that Summer Camp vibe, that sense of We’re In This Together, that Great Pause…but then it got political, per usual? Sigh. The Universe, she done tried.

          So let’s both agree – a pact if you will – that we’ll leverage this Summer Camp, this Gap Year, to compassionately battle our own resistance, to improve the skills we bring to the Big Resistance per our civic-responsibility. Camp may require us to poke our heads out and do Recon once in awhile, test the waters, earn our badges and such. But we’ll know we always have the comfort and coziness of camp to which we may return, process, meditate, build, and repeat.

          This exchange has been glorious, Brian, and wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t honest, so thanks for meeting me at vulnerability. If people were tokens….I’ve got big pockets.

      • Joe on January 14, 2021 at 7:06 am

        Katie, I also must tip my hat to you and your comments. For a society to exist under “the rule of law” (rather than being subject to the whim and fiat of a personality), we mutually agree to participate in the story that “the law applies equally to all.” If we find that people in other positions and roles can blow through stoplights, why should we ourselves feel beholden to… I don’t know, “follow the speed limit”? We don’t. “If the rules don’t apply to you, then they don’t apply to me, either,” they say. And there you have things starting to break down. You’re right that the rules (laws, social norms, conventions) must apply equally to people regardless of their skin color, size of their bank account, or who their friends are.

        I like the cadence of your phrasing of “putting walls up by taking tech down.” My sense is that those tech companies would have preferred not to take the steps they did. Their revenues have benefited by the divisiveness and polarity their platforms have fueled. Note how Twitter’s stock valuation dropped precipitously when the market opened on Monday, 11 January, after pulling the plug on certain accounts on the preceding Friday (8 Jan). I saw a news report yesterday that Twitter and FB have lost a combined $51 BILLION in market value since booting >> one individual personality << from their platforms.

        Written language is maybe 5000 years old. The telegraph was invented in the 1830s/40s (and was it prescient for the first message sent by Samuel Morse was: "What hath God wrought?"). Twitter, on the other hand, was launched in 2006. Social media is the largest leap (I'm not saying "greatest leap") in human communication that's ever occurred. And we don't even know what we're doing. Pressing buttons and pulling levers on human psychology, attention, perception, methods of manipulating thought and behavior — like the bald monkeys we are, sitting atop a gas dump and just figuring out how to flick lit matches. (See the Netflix documentary "The Social Dilemma.")

        If a person stands on stage in front of a packed and diverse audience and says into the microphone, "I'm white so I think I'm better than you," it's within our capacity to respond, "I understand that you think that way, but I don't agree with you." On the other hand, if the person at the mic says, "Turn to the person next to you and punch them in the mouth. When you're done with that, I want you to light your seat cushion on fire." Is there a difference between these two communications, and is it incumbent on the theater owner to say I'm not willing to let my microphone be used in this way?

        I don't have any answers. Just thoughts.

        • Katie on January 14, 2021 at 3:20 pm

          Joe! Thanks for all this! Yes, the Social Contract, if you will. And very much related to the retaliatory “moral gap” mentioned in Mark Manson’s second book. To use your traffic rules analogy: “If you cut me off in traffic, I’ll do it to you.” (Which works WAY better for humanity when it’s more like, “If you let me in, I’m more likely to let someone else in next time.”)

          That’s IN.SANE. about the drop in Twitter/FB market value! I didn’t catch that. I mean, I’m not surprised, and yet I am, if that makes sense? It’s truly just absolutely frightening to see actual data that indicates when so few wield so much.

          I sort of want to get “What hath God wrought” tattooed on my knuckles so that when I gaze down at my keyboard in rage, I’ll have that practically archaic reminder to pause. You absolutely nailed it with “Pressing buttons and pulling levers on human psychology…” And those monkeys then stumble upon fire and end up burning down their entire village pod. I HAVE seen “The Social Dilemma” and I had no idea what to do with my feels then, and after all this, I still don’t! But I’m so glad it exists because I now know people who ALSO see the man behind the curtain. One by one.

          Ahhh, I’m going to ponder your stage-audience example because you’ve got something there. We humans have become so sophisticated that we *subversively* punch each other in the mouth and light our seat cushions on fire. But then when we see the mongrels **literally** doing it, we look down our noses at them in disgust. And meanwhile the theatre owner’s just trying to find what’s the better entertainment and collect a check. And we’re all the idiot aholes who keep paying the guy!
          Yikes.

          Thanks again for this, Joe!

          • Joe on January 15, 2021 at 11:53 am

            “first time caller, long time listener.”

            S’funny!

            The traffic-merge experiment: I’ve tried it. It works. When my daughter was about 10, we were on an interstate feeder ramp where people were jamming it up like for the last chopper out of Saigon. I’d tell her, “See what they’re doing up there?” She said yeah, I see.

            I slowed down, made a space and let one in. I told her, “Now look behind us.”

            Sure enough, people started staggering it and letting each other in. She had this look on her face like she was witnessing magic. Maybe she was.



    • Kate V on January 13, 2021 at 11:19 am

      bsn,

      There is a difference between silencing an entire political party (which is not happening) and companies being required to moderate content and not permit that which is (verb) threatening or otherwise illegal. Just food for thought. Thanks for being thoughtful about all these issues that are a struggle to think about.

      Best,
      KV

      • Brian Nelson on January 13, 2021 at 1:49 pm

        Kate,
        Well put, and once my immediate defensiveness subsided (I guess I’d rather be right than learn more often than I want to admit), I see your point. I do not have a Twitter account, but I’m curious to know if all the negative and violence provoking responses to Trump’s tweets are also de-platformed. Was Kathy Gifford de-platformed for holding a knife & Trump’s head a couple of years back? I honestly do not know, but I am curious.

        One thing I’ve recognized in myself–and I don’t really know the answer to this. For me, certainty is the death of curiosity and learning. At the same time, my mind is continually, constantly trying to make sense of the world–to give me some degree of certainty.

        Thanks for your post. It is good to have some well-intentioned holes poked in my view of the world.

        Have a great day.
        bsn

  21. Michael on January 13, 2021 at 8:47 am

    Steven,

    So VERY WELL said! If only this truth you have written here could
    find its way into the hearts and minds of some politicians and their misled
    constituents, who are both filled with unobserved resistance gone amok.

    I pray that it be so–SOON.

    Thank you! I will be sharing this post.

  22. Rebecca on January 13, 2021 at 8:56 am

    Thank you, Steven, for framing this in terms of Resistance. It is funny how Resistance will make you feel like trod-upon dirt, or that you are better than others, depending on what gets the job done in terms of divorcing you from your gift and preventing others from finding and using theirs.

    I have friends, family, and members of my reading audience who are kind, good, generous people, but who are being lied to, told their election was stolen. If I believed that, I would be angry, too. Actually, I was angry at the previous election and believed it was stolen due to the popular vote being ignored. So, I cannot judge their feelings. That doesn’t mean I’m not outraged at the actions taken by some who have given into Resistance, whipped up into a fury by a man who is nearly Resistance personified.

    I will not abandon my deceived loved ones for their beliefs…so long as they are not acted upon in ways that glorify Resistance. I continue to try to educate with love, even though it falls on deaf ears. But, it is exhausting to listen to the lies — always the same lies, word for word — that are given back to me.

    • Brian Nelson on January 13, 2021 at 10:19 am

      Rebecca,
      Good for you! Very honest, reflective, and wise.
      bsn

  23. Andrew lubin on January 13, 2021 at 8:57 am

    Thank you for taking a stand!!

  24. Rebecca Ruggles on January 13, 2021 at 9:17 am

    Thank you for making this connection. The struggle with resistance is not limited to the artist. Imagine what we could achieve as humans if we stopped blaming and killing each other, and instead focused on nurturing our diverse individual talents. Learn to cope with your own resistance or risk having is used by others to control you.

  25. Kevin R Worthley on January 13, 2021 at 9:18 am

    Amen, Thank YOU, and could not agree more. The mantra should be, “Heal thyself first”…

  26. Doug on January 13, 2021 at 9:28 am

    When the statement is made,
    “Beyond that, such individuals may be convinced that they, being “real” Americans, are entitled to have their votes counted, whereas others are not real Americans and thus may be disenfranchised, no matter what the facts say.”
    I am not sure which side of the election issue Steve is on. Are all of the previous commenters sure Steve is making a statement that supports your beliefs. It could apply to either side of the election, if you believe it was perfect, or stolen.
    Because I contradicted your opinion, of course I am not very bright, or just one of the explainers. It is OK if you think that about me.
    Consider this, if I can interpret the statement either way, so could others. If they are work for the hosting company that provides the infrastructure for this web site we all enjoy, it can be gone with one keystroke. I hope Steve and his team are prepared for that. Steve does a series on the warrior ethic, “obviously he is asking for violence.” Sound ridiculous, but consider it. Deleting this web site, cancelling all of the books, and eliminating years of hard work by a team of people would be justified, right?
    When other peoples opinions are so unacceptable that they have to be silenced, and the “ends justifies the means” we are all in very frightening, resistance dominated thinking patterns. If we are all children who need the government to protect us from bad opinions, social networks, books and ideas I have to disagree with you.
    I think of myself as an adult who can read, criticize and form my own opinions. I may be wrong at times, but I prefer that to having my opinion assigned to me.

    • Brian Nelson on January 13, 2021 at 10:23 am

      Doug,
      Brilliant. I tried to re-read 1984 this summer–and had to stop. It was too prescient. It was too dark–and it was happening all around me.

      The Bill of Rights are ordinal. Freedom of Speech is before everything else. When we silence others, via technology, 21sth Century Newspeak, or cancel culture–we are adding kindling and fuel to a future uncontrollable fire.
      bsn

    • Laura on January 13, 2021 at 10:53 am

      I agree that Steve’s comments apply to either ‘side’.

      There are deep, dark secrets to be revealed and it’s been hard for me to wrap my brain around what is happening in the world. I yearn for truth, willing to push past my former beliefs and discomfort…and it’s is certainly uncomfortable to try to understand.

      Seemingly ‘good guys’ can be perpetrators of bad things, while seemingly ’bad guys’ can be perpetrators of good.

      Censorship of any opinion is not the way to achieve resolution. Let us continue to listen to all as we bring the truth to light. Do not look the other way, but face it all head on, no matter how hard it may rock your world. No one can ‘make’ you doing anything without your permission…stand firm and listen…exercise discernment.

      We are living through this next chapter of history, and for it to be authentic, all views must be represented. I think we will all be surprised with numerous revelations and pray for truth and peace to prevail.

      Thanks, Steve.

  27. Bing on January 13, 2021 at 9:34 am

    I only know one thing for sure. I am putting all my energy in 2021 into a huge creative project that involves writing, story telling and painting. It is a huge commitment, way over my head and exactly what is needed in my life at this time. I am going to use my one of a kind gift and give it all that I have to my community. My advice to everyone is now is the time to take on huge creative project something enormous.

    • Rebecca on January 13, 2021 at 10:58 am

      Huzzah! Godspeed and love to you! I hope it turns out bigger and better than your dreams.

  28. Frank J Ishizaki on January 13, 2021 at 10:17 am

    Thank you for going on record, Steven. We stand with you!

  29. Shawn Dove on January 13, 2021 at 10:24 am

    Powerful post Pressfield! The iconic Harlem Renaissance poet, Langston Hughes expressed these same exact sentiments in his poem, “I, Too” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47558/i-too Now, more so than ever, is the time for folks to own their gifts and to courageously get clear on what work is theirs to do for such a time as this. This is what I have been roaring back to my very own Resistance that resides within…

  30. Anthony on January 13, 2021 at 10:35 am

    Love. Thank you.

  31. Gwen Abitz on January 13, 2021 at 11:35 am

    America is in very troubling times and I do not know what the outcome is going to be. For me, I am neither red nor blue; but I am white and ALL LIVES MATTER. Yes, America did have it’s first African American President. My understanding his mother was white and his father was black. For me along with he being our first African American President he was also our first Bi-Racial President, not just our first Black President; being 50% white along with being 50% black. When did Black and White become our identity, anyway? I don’t know; guess all has needed TO HAPPEN to get out of the comfort zone that American supposedly was. So much deeper and wider than I can comprehend and I do look in the mirror and [ask me] what is and what has been my contribution to the collective consciousness that prevails. IF ONLY I didn’t have so much RESISTANCE to write “my story” which more than likely “the story” for many knowing we are not so different AFTER ALL.

  32. Lisa K. on January 13, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    When I get all caught up in my own self-righteousness, pointing fingers, and “other”-ness, I turn to Pema Chodron for a little reminder to keep my heart open and recognize the humanity in all of us:
    “When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dynamic nature of your own being and of reality, you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity to not be afraid. You’re able to keep your eyes open, your heart open, and your mind open. And you notice when you get caught up in prejudice, bias, and aggression. You develop an enthusiasm for no longer watering those negative seeds, from now until the day you die. And, you begin to think of your life as offering endless opportunities to start to do things differently.”
    ― Pema Chödrön, Practicing Peace in Times of War

    • Joe on January 14, 2021 at 9:24 am

      Good one, Lisa.

  33. York on January 13, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    Steve,

    All I can say is thank you for this.

    2020 was definitely a year of understanding that people are controlled by belief systems and narratives. We’ve never escaped it and may never will. This occurs on the individual level but on the state, nation, continental level and beyond.

    Even knowledge and fact today may be debated and outmoded by new insights tomorrow.

    Resistance, like writer’s block “exists”. But how we approach it and the physical manifestation of it is decided by the narratives we tell ourselves. If we choose to step back and not rely solely on the media machine to feed us and cause hysteria, we have a better chance at overcoming it.

    Patience, humility and the gift.

    • Brian Nelson on January 14, 2021 at 2:52 pm

      York,
      I missed this yesterday, but you nailed it. Well said.
      bsn

  34. John on January 13, 2021 at 2:12 pm

    I thin you’ve tapped into something here Steve.

    Food for thought from someone who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020.

    I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently looking back at the uproar and protests the day after his win in 2016 and leading up to the inauguration. I was as shocked as everyone else because I was being told by the media and pollsters on a daily basis that Hillary was a slam dunk and of course, I believed it. I think its safe to say that some people have never come to terms with the fact that he was/is our President (Resistance?). Maybe because the media and others were feeding us a steady diet that he was aided by Russia – that he stole the election (sound familiar). This was entertained for another two years. I do not recall many in the mainstream calling it out for what it was. I do not recall disclaimers on Twitter. I do not recall many who lean left thinking this may be setting a dangerous precedent (Resistance?). The mantra of the time was Resist and it was embraced.

    When George Floyd was murdered and the incidents that came before and after occurred, I watched the protests around the country in horror. Horror at watching his last moments as well as the destruction that came afterwards. Some of it was peaceful but not after the sun went down. Yet I was gaslighted on a daily basis that this wasn’t violence at all and even on the remote chance it was, it was justified. That if white, brown and black people’s businesses were being burned down, it was collateral damage. That if you weren’t for BLM, a political org at best, a Marxist org run by white people at worst you aren’t a real American – you’re just part of the problem. Silence is Violence…Be an Anti-racist, etc.

    I would love if as a country, we could have real conversations about race but we’re nowhere’s near ready when the narratives are tightly controlled and white people can only sit in lecture mode and listen unless you’re the political party that controls the narrative. And if you were to speak up…what would you risk losing? (Resistance or self-preservation).

    The truth is I love my black brothers and sisters but they have serious, serious issues that will never be solved when they fail to even recognize the problem – talk about resistance. Or if they do, its summed up as systemic. Its not that far off from telling a bunch of deplorables all their problems will be solved by building a wall. There’s entirely too much black crime in this country (yeah, I said it) and this causes way too many interactions between the police and black people. Unfortunately, when that happens you will have incidents that go bad and people will die. And by the way, there’s also too much white racism in this country but its far from systemic.

    As distressing as that is, nothing is more depressing than watching black people assemble and flutter balloons off into the sky in memory of someone whose life was cut short. That scene is carried out 7,000 times per year. That’s 7k George Floyd necks. You can say BLM all you want but until ALL BLM, its all political posturing. But we don’t want to talk about it unless it’s controlled a certain way because it is uncomfortable (Resistance?).

    When DT played the birther game with President Obama, it was politics and when JB wouldn’t call out the rioters this Summer until his poll numbers sagged, it was politics. Politicians play to their base.

    I’ll end with the fact that leading up to this year’s election, businesses were being boarded up if you recall. They weren’t being boarded up in case of a Joe Biden victory, I can promise you that. If DT would have won and protesters took to the street once again, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. We would have saluted those who would continue to Resist for the next 4 years.

    I don’t see much of a difference in the protests from this Summer and what happened last week except one was highly organized and the others were not but both were disgusting. Hopefully we can pull those capes off as a nation and take off our political blinders as well.

  35. YL on January 13, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    Thumbs up !

  36. Jim Gant on January 13, 2021 at 10:07 pm

    Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.

    My country is not my King.
    But, oh!
    I pray for thee.

    Yes, yes. Let’s take a knee and reason – Together.
    Thank you for everything.
    1 COR 13:1-2
    Jim

    • Joe on January 14, 2021 at 9:34 am

      “Take a knee together.” Thanks, Jim.

      • Brian Nelson on January 14, 2021 at 3:05 pm

        Joe/Jim,
        This is a common Army expression for settle the hell down. ‘Take a knee, drink water, weapons out.” I think of it as active rest, similar to God’s test of Gideon’s Soldiers. I imagine it said in the USMC or something to that effect.
        Sound tactical advice that has implications outside of the ruck march.
        Great counsel, and thank you both.
        bsn

        • Joe on January 15, 2021 at 11:58 am

          USMC equivalent: “Take a knee. Rub some dirt on it.”

  37. Dick Baker on January 14, 2021 at 2:47 am

    Can we get past the goddam George Floyd “murder” bullshit? Floyd was a career criminal, known actor, drug dealer and abuser. History of violence and weapons use in commission of crimes. Floyd was a big bastard.
    He ingested his stash of Fentanyl when he saw the cops. The woman in the car witnessed that. And this was f a r from his first encounter with the cops.

    Now you have a big guy, known violent offender, known to use weapons, known ‘çrazy’ looking at serious
    time on federal counterfeit charges and state time for possession with intent. You have two small and green Asian/Latin cops and one guy of any size to control this MF. The cop applied an AUTHORIZED hold, that he’d been TRAINED to use, to control the subject.

    They called for EMS and while waiting, continued to control the subject. Floyd had a history of irrational
    behavior and a history of swallowing drugs. The cops knew that, they didn’t know what he swallowed
    for certain. Their choices were few, none of them perfect, and they elected not to shoot to guy. They waited
    for EMS.

    Floyd died from a massive overdose of Fentanyl, and Cocaine. He has not smothered or murdered.
    We do not need to glorify his name, or repeat misinformation long refuted.

    I am delighted you’ve returned to the Sword and Sandal Circuit, I can hardly wait!!!!

  38. Jaime Cole on January 14, 2021 at 5:42 am

    This has absolutely nothing to do with writing. If I wanted to hear about your politics… Oh yeah, I don’t. So I’ll just unsubsribe.

  39. Jurgen+Strack on January 14, 2021 at 8:02 am

    Thanks for your gift, Steve.

    Keep the faith folks, keep believing!

    Anyone interested in managing your emotions – not least to aid your writing, to help manage your resistance – I’d like to refer you to ‘The Chimp Paradox’, The Mind Management model by Prof Steve Peters.

  40. Dee on January 14, 2021 at 10:12 am

    As long as Americans continue to take the media is gospel, our country will continue to falter.

  41. Millicent A. Crisp on January 15, 2021 at 9:20 am

    Thank You So MUCH for showing up Brother Steven. Blessings and Warm Regard, Millicent A.

  42. Logan on January 15, 2021 at 12:57 pm

    Thank you Steve, for speaking out.

    Seeing a police officer guarding our Capitol get beaten by a mob wearing red MAGA hats and carrying American flags is one of the most distressing things I have ever seen.

    Listening to the whataboutism afterwards, as if BLM protestors breaking store windows in Seattle was an equivalent danger to attempting to overturn an election and issuing death threats against our Vice President and other elected officials is beyond distressing.

    I had to delete Twitter off my phone because I couldn’t control my own doomscrolling.

    So now I’m just hunkering down now, waiting to be eligible to get the COVID vaccine, working on the first draft of a novel and wondering if by the second draft so much will have changed, both inside myself and outside in the world, that I will end up writing a whole different book.

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