It’s been a rough few years for many of us, what with COVID and all that has entailed, including loss of jobs and even death. And of course the greater cultural rhetoric—anti-woman, anti-Black, anti-all people of color, anti-gay, anti-trans, anti-immigrant. Etcetera. Yes, it’s been a rough few years.
I’ve been wondering about what has made me resilient over these years, about what makes any of us resilient.
My working definition of patriarchy (this is not an aside!) is the assertion by a certain group of people that they have the right, they would even say the duty, to have sovereignty over another group of people. Historically, the assertion that men have the right, yes the duty, to have sovereignty over women. (It’s the long reign of that particular patriarchal thought, man over woman, that made possible the invention of the theory of race and white supremacy. But that’s a conversation for another time and place.)
Let’s get back to resiliency, which I’ll define as my ability and my willingness to be sovereign over myself. Even in a culture that says otherwise, even in relationships that say otherwise, even within a family that says otherwise, even as a member of a religion that says otherwise—the truth is that I and I alone have the right, yes the duty, to be sovereign over myself. When I understand that truth, when I know that truth in my very marrow, then I am resilient.
And a corollary truth—I and I alone can surrender my sovereignty. It cannot be taken.