Resistance is active opposition to forces or practices that are accepted, expected, or established. You’ll find here quotations on several kinds of resistance: resisting injustice and oppression, resistance to facing reality or fate, resistance to fear, resistance to change, and more. Is resistance a virtue or a vice? It depends on context and perspective!

Marginality [is] much more than a site of deprivation. In fact I was saying just the opposite: that it is also the site of radical possibility, a space of resistance.

— bell hooks

Living as we do in a white-supremacist capitalist and patriarchal context that can best exploit us when we lack a firm grounding in self and identity, choosing “wellness” is an act of political resistance.

— bell hooks

You better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, ’cause the times they are a-changing.

— Bob Dylan

Commitment is the enemy of resistance, for it is the serious promise to press on, to get up, no matter how many times you are knocked down.

— David McNally

They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.

— Dinos Christianopoulos

Humanism is the only – I would go so far as saying the final – resistance we have against the inhuman practices and injustices that disfigure human history.

— Edward W. Said

Who would be free themselves must strike the blow. Better even to die free than to live slaves.

— Frederick Douglass

I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

The only people who can resist a quick fix are those that are not addicts.

— Gerald M. Weinberg

As peacemakers we must resist resolutely all the powers of war and destruction and proclaim that peace is the divine gift offered to all who affirm life.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen

The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will,and the other from a strong won’t.

— Henry Ward Beecher

Our watchword has been “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Brave men do not gather by thousands to torture and murder a single individual, so gagged and bound he cannot make even feeble resistance or defense. Neither do brave men and women stand by and see such things done without compunction of conscience, nor read of them without protest.

— Ida B. Wells-Barnett

To whomever is expressing that resistance do please explain briefly the intention of the benefits from the exercise, then add: “are you willing to give it a try?”

— Ines Garcia

Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year — it is the struggle of a lifetime. Be persistent and consistent. We shall overcome.

— John Lewis

Resist. Protect. Build resilience and strength. Push forward. Transform.
With others. We can’t do this alone.

— Jone Johnson Lewis

Every day is an opportunity to stand in awe when witnessing the overpowering presence of nature, an apt time to pay reverence for the inestimable beauty of life. I must remain mindful to live in an ethical manner by paying attention to the threat of injustice towards other people and resist capitulating to the absurdity of being a finite body born into infinite space and time. I am part of the world, a spar in a sacred composition, a body of energy suspended in the cosmos. I seek to create a poetic personal testament to life.

— Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

Anytime anyone is enslaved, or in any way deprived of his liberty, if that person is a human being, as far as I am concerned he is justified to resort to whatever methods necessary to bring about his liberty again.

— Malcolm X

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.

— Mark Twain

Resistance and nonviolence are not in themselves good. There is another element that must be present in our struggle that then makes our resistance and nonviolence truly meaningful. That element is reconciliation. Our ultimate end must be the creation of the beloved community.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws, because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail, and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every [person] of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits [their] convictions, but we all must protest.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

To fly, we have to have resistance.

— Maya Lin

Non-cooperation is a measure of discipline and sacrifice, and it demands respect for the opposite views.

— Mohandas K. Gandhi

Information is shock resistance. Arm yourself.

— Naomi Klein

Americans overall are bad at science. Scared of math. Poor at physics and engineering. Resistant to evolution. This science illiteracy is a threat to the nation.

— Neil deGrasse Tyson

Resistance is feasible even for those who are not heroes by nature, and it is an obligation, I believe, for those who fear the consequences and detest the reality of the attempt to impose American hegemony.

— Noam Chomsky

Drowning people
Sometimes die
Fighting their rescuers.

— Octavia E. Butler

Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it — but sail we must and not drift, nor lie at anchor.

— Oliver Wendell Holmes

I can resist everything except temptation.

— Oscar Wilde

Education is the attempt to ‘lead out’ from within the self a core of wisdom that has the power to resist falsehood and live in the light of truth, not by external norms but by reasoned and reflective self-determination.

— Parker J. Palmer

Our problem as Americans — at least, among my race and gender — is that we resist the very idea of limits, regarding limits of all sorts as temporary and regrettable impositions on our lives.

— Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

People in any organization are always attached to the obsolete – the things that should have worked but did not, the things that once were productive and no longer are.

— Peter F. Drucker

People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.

— Peter Senge

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

— Robert F. Kennedy

I must make the important distinction between the rebel and the revolutionary. One is in ineradicable opposition to the other. The revolutionary seeks an external political change…. The origin of the term is the word revolve, literally meaning a turnover, as the revolution of a wheel. When the conditions under a given government are insufferable some groups may seek to break down that government in the conviction that any new form cannot but be better. Many revolutions, however, simply substitute one kind of government for another, the second no better than the first — which leaves the individual citizen, who has had to endure the inevitable anarchy between the two, worse off than before. Revolution may do more harm than good. The rebel … seeks above all an internal change, a change in the attitudes, emotions, and outlook of the people to whom he is devoted. He often seems to be temperamentally unable to accept success and the ease it brings; he kicks against the pricks, and when one frontier is conquered, he soon becomes ill-at-ease and pushes on to the new frontier. He is drawn to the unquiet minds and spirits, for he shares their everlasting inability to accept stultifying control.

— Rollo May

Change means movement. Movement means friction. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict.

— Saul Alinsky

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

— Steven Pressfield

The emotion of fear often works overtime. Even when there is no immediate threat, our body may remain tight and on guard, our mind narrowed to focus on what might go wrong. When this happens, fear is no longer functioning to secure our survival. We are caught in the trance of fear and our moment-to-moment experience becomes bound in reactivity. We spend our time and energy defending our life rather than living it fully.

— Tara Brach

After all, if you do not resist the apparently inevitable, you will never know how inevitable the inevitable was.

— Terry Eagleton

We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.

— Ursula K. Le Guin

We tend to think the problem is human beings have this natural tendency to kill, and yet in the middle of a hot war, WWII, a ‘good war,’ as it were, the US army was astonished to learn that at least three out of every four riflemen who were trained to kill and commanded to kill, could not bring themselves to pull the trigger when they could see the person they were ordered to kill. And that inner resistance to violence is a well kept secret.

— William Ury

If you want to make enemies, try to change something.

— Woodrow Wilson

We are not ready to fight because we love fighting. We are ready to fight because we are worth fighting for

— Zoé Samudzi
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