Op-Ed: Resistance is Necessary for Progress – History and Fiction Agree
We’re all in this special and uncertain time together. This generation has seen so much hatred, violence, and systemic oppression to last lifetimes. Now is the time to be united and take direct action to get the justice we deserve, the justice our ancestors fought for. But why isn’t everybody taking direct action? Some people fear change, some are fine with just the way things are, and some think change will never happen. The last group is the easiest to confront.
Anybody who’s read any history book knows that when people actively and unitedly fight for change, it can and will happen. Beyond that, even those who know little about history understand this fundamental truth because it’s a story told again and again throughout pop culture. History shows us that resistance is necessary for progress, and so do stories. Stories like these will always be popular because they speak to a universal truth that change is human nature.
These popular examples of resistance and revolution can also serve as entertainment needed to revitalize or simply comfort us in these times of struggle.
The Hunger Games
Both the films and the books show that this series is dystopia squared, and it’s no wonder why it takes place in future America. Capitalism has run so far off the course from creating friendly competition and incentivizing hard work to allowing the filthy rich aristocrats make the children of the poor fight to the death for some entertainment.
This lack of humanity unsurprisingly inspires uprisings that start off peacefully. The three-fingered salute Katniss and other protestors did was more symbolic than anything, but the Capitol understood it as an act of defiance on live TV and slaughtered them all. As if the annual Hunger Games weren’t enough, this further ingrained in Katniss that the Capitol only can communicate through violence. They tried to protest many times and rally for change, but the Capitol wasn’t having it. It’s only until two sequels of completely avoidable bloodshed and pain that the revolution is finally realized. The nation undoubtedly must reconcile and heal, but real progress can finally happen.
What makes Star Wars so iconic is its classic tale of good versus evil and how hope and hard work triumph over time. Fantasy or not, these tropes are universal. The Empire is evil and the Rebels are good. It’s easy and it makes sense. But neither Obi-Wan Kenobi nor Luke Skywalker were the first to challenge the Empire and similar regimes that followed, and they certainly weren’t the last.
After the Rebel Alliance established the democratic New Republic, the fascist First Order military soon rose to power and threatened everything the Rebel Alliance stood for: sovereignty and peace. General Leia saw this as a direct threat and formed the Resistance, a paramilitary force dedicated to stopping the First Order and reforming the New Republic. While they were relatively organized from the get-go, they were only able to win when they unified the masses. Once they got more powerful followers like Rey and even Finn, a former stormtrooper with key intel and training, they were virtually unstoppable. A few rebels couldn’t have gotten anywhere against the First Order, but a unified Resistance could and did.
While much younger than Star Wars, Harry Potter is another iconic and fantastical tale of good versus evil. Harry and other wizards are good while Voldemort and his followers are evil. The concept of resistance really comes into play in The Order of the Phoenix. Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor Delores Umbridge refused to believe Harry’s claim that Voldemort returned. She was so headfast in her refusal that she didn’t teach students how to defend themselves against the dark arts, a threat she believed to be nonexistent.
Harry realized this and created Dumbledore’s Army, a group of students dedicated to teaching themselves defense. Disbanded and later reestablished, Dumbledore’s Army significantly helped Harry save Hogwarts and ultimately defeat Voldemort. They weren’t the only help he had, but their formation and dedication to fighting for what’s right even if it’s against the rules proved to be a deciding factor in the final battle of the series.
The key to progress in an unfavorable environment is focused and unified resistance. The change we need right now is for Black and brown lives to be treated fairly in society rather than being viewed as a threat or a disposable people. We need justice for the countless victims of police brutality and systemic racism. We need a new set of leaders and laws that accurately reflect and uphold our morals and values.
As so many examples show, this is much easier said than done, but the first step is to dedicate yourself to progress. Those who stay on the sidelines and criticize the way people resist without acting themselves because the injustices at hand are no inconvenience to them at all are not dedicated to any progress, let alone the progress of their own character.
Geeks of Color is dedicated to justice. To find out more on how you can do the same, please click here. Stay safe and love yourself and your community.
Nothing but love.