Why do we give permission?

Why do we give permission for certain things to continue, even though we say we don’t want them to?

I know, this may seem simplistic.  We may say that some things are just beyond our permission.

But I’m not talking about us as just individually.  I’m talking about us as a collective unit – a community, or nation, or church, or anything else that binds people together.

Silence is a form of permission.  Giving up is a form of permission.  Saying we can’t do anything about it is a form of permission.  Sure, they are excuses, but if we aren’t willing to do something to end a certain practice or cultural norm or belief, then we are really just giving permission for it to continue.

So why do we give permission for racism to continue?  We say we don’t like racism, that it’s evil.  We say we don’t want it to continue.  Yet, somehow it persists.  People do blatantly racist things.  They must of figured out that they could get away with them.  There are systems in place that allow for racism to continue – what are we doing about them?  If we don’t like racism, then why do we give permission for it to persist?  I wonder if part of this has to do with definitions – how we define racism.

Racism is just one thing that our society gives permission to continue to exist.  Greed is another.  So is exploitation.  Corruption.  Abuse.  Violence as an acceptable solution to conflicts and problems.  Selfishness.  Poverty and homelessness.  The list could go on.

Why do we give permission for the idea of putting the value of money ahead of the value of people?

Non-violent resistance is about no longer being willing to give permission.  It is invitational.  It says that I no longer give my permission.  I longer am willing to participate in violent and unjust systems.  I can’t change them, but I will not willingly participate in them to the best of my ability.  This means we are inconvenienced.  I usually requires living differently.   This way is invitational.  Join in, or don’t.  No one is going chase you down and force you live this way.

Non-violent resistance is often met with some form of violence though.  Maybe physical.  Maybe verbal.  Maybe emotional or social.  That’s because unjust systems demand compliance and granting permission.  Permission makes it appear that unjust systems are normal and accepted.  Unjust systems that are met with non-violent resistance are exposed for what they truly are.  And they are shown how weak they really are.  I mean, come on.  These systems can’t handle people withholding their permission.  They can’t handle having less than 100% compliance.  They need everyone to be on board to make it appear like they are just fine.  Just read any dystopian novel for examples.  Or look at examples of history – take Communist countries or other tyrannies.  The same happens with systems that are ingrained in cultures.  The unspoken norms that exist – the things that aren’t to be questioned.  But when someone questions them, look out.  They are exposed for how shabby they really are.

Non-violent resistance is just not giving permission for such things any longer.  It’s saying no – not yelling it.  Not fighting either.  Just not giving permission and moving on to a different way of being.

So, what are you giving permission to?  And how does that match up with what you claim to believe?  What needs to change – your beliefs or your permission?  Now what are you going to do about it?  And when are you going to start?

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