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Sunday, September 21 2014 @ 01:02 AM CDT

Tension in Conflict: Towards a Strong Activist Discipline

Health

Most cultures at one point or another had sports and other martial disciplines that developed the physical, psychological, and spiritual faculties of individuals toward a cohesive warrior that could operate on an individual as well as team based level. Should this be any different for activists in conflict? Constantly there are situations where activists are under high stress and tension; this in the end could erode not just the activist's health over time but add to a degradation to cultures and communities of resistance. I feel it is of the utmost importance to take time aside to assess intentions about how and why a person who takes on the task of an activist and how not to burn out. In fact, what I am proposing is an entirely new paradigm of activist health.

Tension in Conflict: Towards a Strong Activist Discipline

Kaleb Hoeffgen

"You don't know yourself till you've been punched."

Most cultures at one point or another had sports and other martial disciplines that developed the physical, psychological, and spiritual faculties of individuals toward a cohesive warrior that could operate on an individual as well as team based level. Should this be any different for activists in conflict? Constantly there are situations where activists are under high stress and tension; this in the end could erode not just the activist's health over time but add to a degradation to cultures and communities of resistance. I feel it is of the utmost importance to take time aside to assess intentions about how and why a person who takes on the task of an activist and how not to burn out. In fact, what I am proposing is an entirely new paradigm of activist health.

Imagine instead of burning out because of taking on too much stress, there was a program that was built on a set of exercises and drills that could a)build upon the activists own internal ability to assess the tension and stress caused by intense situations on their minds and bodies and b)could aide in the development of camaraderie and trust amongst affinity groups. Imagine a standardized and adaptive program that any activist groups could use to normalize conflict psychology and aide in personal discipline and community discipline.

I don't believe it's enough to take a martial arts class or for activists to feel safe behind their words. It's one thing to be able to construct or mitigate an argument or conflict, it's another thing to be hit in the face with a punch, and it's even more so an even deeper thing to be able to assess personal feelings and fears in confrontation with such intense and destructive force. Training in such a program can perhaps greatly increase the viability and strength of an individual's psychological will when they are confronted alone or with a team of allies, or if they are confronted by a single threat or a multiple threats all at once.

Imagine activists taking it upon their own initiative to assess themselves internally and address issues of insecurity through such a program. I don't believe it is in the best interest of activists to freeze up in situations of high duress and tension. Imagine being in a situation where some action is being carried out, and because of some personal unsettled issue, the person you depended on loses their psychological capacity to be stoic and engaged in such an event. This could endanger not just the individuals involved, but would lead to rash acts that could compromise the safety of activists in whatever field they are engaged in, whether aboveground or underground.

Therefore, I think it is of the utmost importance that such a program be available as a tool, to standardize a discipline program for such events and for the health of the activist in the longer term. I feel that such interests in resistance movements from the past that were involved in intense conflict are left often to the intellectual realm, which in the long term cannot wholly identify a momentous or situational conflict. In such an event where a person or group of individuals are confronted with a serious or dangerous threat, all egos and identities go out the window, regardless of philosophical or ideological motivations, and what is most important is maintaining and completing the objective at hand and ensuring the health and vitality of the individual or group of individuals involved.

In conclusion to this short essay, I again purport the idea of a program being created so as to normalize a warrior ethic as well as psychological preparedness for activists and resisters as a whole. Not to be in preparation for some intense period of warfare, that would be led by fear, but moving toward a program of normalizing skills, strengthening psychological and physical prowess, as well as building the health, discipline, vitality, and trust needed by individuals in such an occasion. Such a program being standardized into a culture of resistance builds into a foundation of personal and well as communal self-reliance that could lead to a greater culture of resistance.

Think yoga and guerrilla warfare in a blender.

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