Haiku Me Friday! Rebellion, Resistance, and Semantics, oh my!

No need to rebel;
What you decide to resist
Means it will persist

For July, my topic is the Rebellion and Resistance. Today, however, I want to look at the semantics of these two words and take a larger view at them.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (my favorite!), rebellion and resistance are defined as:

  • Rebellion – The action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention.
  • Resistance – The refusal to accept or comply with something.

Merriam-Webster defines the words:

  • Rebellion – opposition to one in authority or dominance.
  • Resistance – an opposing or retarding force.

When I look at these two words, it’s clear that Rebellion is a lot more of an active word. Oxford even defines it as an “action” and both definitions describe it as resisting authority.

This seems clear from when we see the Rebellion being born in Star Wars Rebels, it’s early days in Rogue One, and as an established force within the Original Trilogy. Rebellion means putting a wall up in defiance, a way of saying, “No, I do not stand for this and I am openly going to defy you, as much as possible.” With a rebellion, there is a clear authority in charge as stated in both definitions, and in Star Wars, it’s the Empire; there is a dominating system to buck against.

Looking at resistance, though it’s not quite a passive word, when compared to rebellion – it is not such a dynamic word. The most interesting part of the word is that it is not as clearly defined as rebellion. As we have seen, rebellion is usually associated with authority, but resistance could apply to a large range of systems. Your body can resist antibiotics – it doesn’t usually rebel against them. You can resist your parents rules as a teenager – but parents will often tell you there is a large difference between a teenager that openly rebels and one that resists a bit. I can resist thinking about my past – but I can’t really rebel against thinking about my past.

When the Resistance was formed in Star Wars, it was a small band of leaders under Leia who felt like the First Order was a threat to contend with. They knew that they could be facing something similar to the Empire rising up again, so they decided to form this group as “an opposing or retarding force” to the First Order. Interestingly, when you read Bloodline, you see that the Resistance was formed not only to oppose the First Order, but also because the New Republic “refused to accept” that the First Order was a real threat. Interestingly, the word has multiple meanings in this case.

Some of the best advice I ever received when it comes to feelings and emotions was:

What you resist persists

The New Republic resisted the Resistance. But they persisted and the New Republic failed because of their own resistance. The First Order also continuously resists the Resistance. The First Order should look at the past and see how the Rebellion managed to overcome the mighty Empire and perhaps they will realize that what resists persists.

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