Résistance: If Not Now, When?

For some odd reason I like to say the word “resistance ” in French as it has more flair and sounds so much more powerful.  But what exactly is resistance? An online dictionary gave me these two useful definitions:

Screen shot 2013-10-02 at 11.54.18 AM

The first definition shows the external, physical quality of not accepting something and the second seems to be more about how we internalize or act, in the short and long-term, in relationship to “our setbacks.” So resistance can mean resisting something that we don’t agree with but it can also mean chosing not to be affected by something adversely.  It denotes both an internal and external action.

But what happens when resistance meets resistance?  I imagine it looks something like this:


As I set out to do the Week 5 exercise called “ABCD’s of Managing Resistance,” I kept both of these definitions and the above possible scenario in mind.   In addition, thinking about resistance and its multiple meanings led me to think about the Resistance movement during WWII and its vast underground network of supporters throughout Europe.  So remembering a powerful book, I headed to my small, trusty, dusty bookshelf and pulled it out.

If Not Now, When? by Primo Levi, first published in 1982, depicts the harsh life of European Jews involved in the Resistance movement and their supporters who fought back during the Holocaust.  Their struggles and their lives are a tribute to the best of both meanings of resistance.  The title of Levi’s book was taken from a famous passage which is quite apropos in thinking about this weeks exercise on resistance.


This week I met with great resistance in trying to forge ahead with one idea that I am trying to advance.  At first glance,  it was quite daunting.  But as we were encouraged to listen,  and dig deeper into it, I moved ahead with the exercise and came up with some disputations.

As I put forth my ideas and listen to the resistance and dig deeply into it, I can’t help but think that  Hillel was onto something and for that reason Levi borrowed this passage from him to title his book about the Jewish Resistance.

What I am taking from Hillel’s passage are these three fundamental considerations which I aim to keep in perspective in getting any project, movement, or business started: the importance of self, the importance of others, and the importance of timing and action.

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2 Responses to Résistance: If Not Now, When?

  1. Maureen — I found that process of crafting disputations liberating. The prompt to specifically craft the argument or narrative of the opposite of the adversities, belief and constraints presented by my play along colleagues was incredibly useful. Being forced to imagine the alternative started to make the possibility of the impossible real. Who would have thought that by actually acknowledging the resistance, such productive considerations could emerge. Thanks for sharing your experience with this same exercise.

  2. I love the sound of re-zis-stants in French. In fact, there must be some TV show character that made it famous because I can hear it echoing my head like a jingle. I read this post earlier today before my yoga class, and the theme for the class turned out to be resistance. Where are you and your body stuck in old habits and alignments? How difficult is it to let go of the old and allow the new to take its place? It takes listening to your body and your form to allow change to take place. These ideas gave your post a deeper meaning for me…as it obviously has for you…as you dig more deeply and attempt to move forward with your idea. Also interesting is the quote..which has been associated with any process of change and is the start of one of my journals from years back. The time is now. If not now, then when?

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