Resistance is basically opposing a force that is struggling to impose something, even through the use of violence. The success of resisting lies in preventing the manifestations supported by negative values from contaminating our feelings and emotions, transforming the essence of what we have always been, to become what we have faced.

It was the end of September 2017, I lived in Caracas, Venezuela. One morning I received a call from a dear friend. She wanted to entrust me with a very particular task: to rescue some young people who were without resources and needed to go to the city of Maracay, where they lived. I told her that she could count on me, so she sent the phone numbers to contact them.

Calling them, they asked me to meet them in the city center, near the headquarters of the criminal courts. We agreed to pick them up at a local restaurant. I arrived at the place. They were three kids, a girl and two boys, 18 years old. Knowing that they had not eaten lunch, I invited them to eat. So I got to know his story.

The resistance

They identified themselves as members of la Resistencia, a youth emancipation movement fighting against the dictatorship in Venezuela. The young woman set the tone of the conversation, obviously showing her leadership. The two boys watched her spellbound while she explained their tricks to me. They came from the city of Maracay, an hour and a half away by car from Caracas. Motivated by the wave of protests that were taking place in the Chacao area, a municipality located in eastern Caracas, they had joined la Resistencia, the Resistance in English, to defend citizens from the abuses of the security agencies that acted under the orders of the regime. Every time citizens went out to carry out peaceful civic protests, groups of soldiers and police officers appeared to attack the demonstrators. On many occasions, collective groups arrived: armed civilians at the service of the regime who participated in the attacks against the demonstrators.

The actions of la Resistencia youth were daring, they took the tear gas grenades fired by the military and threw them back at them. They used urban tactics to surround the gangs of officials, leaving them in the middle of the smoke, and forcing them to flee. They created barricades and fences with garbage and other waste materials, to limit movement.

There was also a lot of candor in the youngest, almost children. With shields made of wood, they made formations to withstand loads of tear gas and pellets fired by the police and military. The latter began to use cartridges modified with glass or metal marbles to penetrate the shields of those boys. As a result, defenseless young people began to die.

The girl was known among la Resistencia for her bravery and determination, the boys said. They explained that if there was a competition to take tear gas canisters and throw them back at the repressors, she would take first place. Certainly, the young woman had a magnetic presence. It was not difficult to develop a feeling of admiration.

They told me that the situation had become complicated. State security agencies had begun raiding apartments in the area. The neighbors who sheltered them were fearful, and the kids did not want to harm them. The kids already had several days without rest. They needed to return to their homes. To regain strength, they told me.

I took them to my house. They were able to bathe there. My family and I decided that the next day I would take them to Maracay. There were military checkpoints and we had to make sure they arrived safely. The next morning we left. While driving, the kids told me how the citizens cheered them up when they appeared, I had seen videos of the neighbors who applauded with emotion when they saw the kids from la Resistencia appear when the military and police agents began to attack people. They arrived with safety helmets, some with gas masks, and even teenagers with wooden shields could be seen. When they came to the front the officials then intensified their aggressive behavior. They fired pellet guns. They were throwing stun grenades. The tear gas canisters were aimed directly at the bodies of the youths. And the kids were not daunted. They shouted their slogan: We want freedom.

Listening to the kids, I began to inquire about their expectations.

They explained to me that one of the objectives of la Resistencia was to help the citizens who demonstrated to achieve change.

The phrase had an immediate impact on my mind for obvious reasons. My thought structure automatically assimilates resistance as something that opposes change.

Opposing views and change

Change, I told them, is a continuous process, and in this dynamic, human beings observe events from different points of view. Change itself is an invariable reality because nothing is static and everything is subject to transformation. And the human being is one of the main agents of change, at least in our immediate environment, but each one of us has different visions about what we want to manifest through change. And in that confluence of points of view confrontation and opposition arise.

We stopped at a military checkpoint, which we passed without incident. But the kids´ faces showed displeasure. As they continued, they made gestures to show their contempt for the military officials. And I said a few words to them that I'm sure they still remember: Avoid hate. You are still very young. Resistance is basically opposing a force that is struggling to impose something, even through the use of violence. Therefore, the most critical effort that those who resist tyranny and hatred is not to let their manifestations contaminate our feelings and emotions to become what we are facing.

This reflection accompanied me for several weeks. In a book I wrote a few years earlier, about security and defense, I explained that the relationship between human beings and their environment was one of balance and resistance. And I explained that mutual or continuous resistance favors the appearance of conflicts, as a way to release accumulated energy.

Change, as a continuous process, generates reactions in the subjects, individual or collective, that go beyond resistance. In this process, they come together, either as phases of a transition, or as circumstances that run parallel to the change itself, from passive acceptance to denial of the emerging reality, accommodative inertia, subversion, revolution, rebellion, and innovative adaptability.

Resistance emerges in different ways in the face of manifestations of change.

The denial of the emerging reality is the most common externalization of resistance. In it, the subjects pretend that the alterations generated by the change do not affect them and in alleged normality, they act as if everything remained the same.

Rebellion is the most open and concrete form of resistance because it is exhibited in demonstrations of indignation and repudiation. Converted into a total opposition force, it can become a force for change, with the potential to impose itself and alter material reality trying to adjust it to alternative idealized conditions.

The revolution is perhaps the most authentic expression of resistance to change because it is inspired by ideal material conditions, supposedly previously existing, whose evocation constitutes the fundamental objective of altering current circumstances and returning to the sublime considered point. In the process of returning to the aforementioned ideal conditions, the use of violent actions is justified to accelerate the changes required to give concreteness to the imagined reality.

Starting from the fact that change is invariable, these forms of resistance created by human beings are manifestations of change, because they seek to alter the emerging reality creating different material conditions.

And in each of these modalities, violence frequently arises as a means of imposing an imagined alternate reality, given the impossibility of making the consequences of the changes approach the vision, always subjective, of idealized material conditions.

All idealized change is utopia. And because it is utopian, it tends to distance itself from the reality that is constantly being built, always leaving the impression that the imagined material conditions have not been achieved, which is a source of dissatisfaction in the face of change.

But the idealization of a change that brings us closer to what we really want, is generally one of hope, from which arises an inexhaustible source of struggle, peaceful or militant, stoic or dissatisfied, which ratifies the transforming character of the human being.

Arriving at the destination

We reached the end of our journey.

At one of the entrances to the city of Maracay, there was a cafeteria where we stopped to order some snacks. In the brief moment that I was sitting with the kids, I told them that I had another thought to share with them. I was left with the doubt that la Resistencia was fighting to support the citizens so that they could achieve the change they aspired to. I told them I thought it was laudable.

I told them that I thought the military and police agencies of the regime we were opposing, in some way were acting without their full capacity to inflict harm. That the acts of la Resistencia had limited potential to impede the advance of the violence that would eventually descend upon them, while they held out for the citizenry they were fighting for to drive unknown change.

The kids looked at me with the same unease that I noticed when they explained to me previously that the residents of Chacao were afraid to shelter them.

In that moment of bewilderment, I think I was emphatic when explained to the kids that the most important thing was not what the change that the residents of Chacao in Caracas had in mind was about, but the change that they really wanted.

I asked them what was their true aspiration in the change then.

They told me in unison, that they want to be allowed to have a future in freedom.

The young woman who, as I understood it, was studying music gave me a CD with a song of her own, recorded by her.

Our trip ended when I dropped them off at my friend's house in Maracay.

Returning to Caracas I listened to the CD with the song that the young woman had given me, I remember the chorus that said “ I want us to have freedom ”.

When I arrived in Caracas I called my friend. I told her that I sensed that the young people were in great danger and they had to be protected. Days later I felt great relief when my friend called me to tell me that the kids' parents had taken them out of the country because they had been informed that security agencies were after their steps because some residents of Chacao had been forced to give information about them.

Many days have transcurred since this encounter. Wherever they are, my blessing goes to them. And my faith in change comes to resemble what they yearn for.