3: Fight

“The question therefore is not whether or not we will fight in our lives but how we choose to fight….When you love someone, you fight to protect them when they are in harm’s way. If you ‘see no stranger’ and choose to love all people, then you must fight for anyone who is in harm’s way. This was the path of the warrior-sage: the warrior fights, the sage loves.”

“The fight impulse is ancient and fundamental. These ancestors fought with swords and shields, bows and arrows, because they had no choice. They did not have a sophisticated matrix of legal and political avenues to defend civil and human rights, nor international law to mediate conflicts between nations. We have these avenues today. We no longer need literal weapons like the ancestors. But we could still learn from how they marshalled the fight impulse in the battlefield.”

—Valarie Kaur, See No Stranger, Chapter 3

Understanding Fight

A Practice of Love for Others

To fight is to choose to protect those in harm’s way. To fight with revolutionary love is to fight against injustice alongside those most impacted by harm, in a way that preserves our opponents’ humanity as well as our own. When we fight for those outside our immediate circle, our love becomes revolutionary.

  1. Why is fighting necessary in the labor of revolutionary love?
  2. How can revolutionary love inform how we fight injustice?
  3. How can the practices of wonder and grieving help us to fight for justice?
  4. What do we risk when we fight? What do we lose when we choose not to fight?
  5. What are our own metaphorical swords and shields in the fight for justice?
  • Notice what the fight impulse feels like in your body. Notice what it feels like for your fists to clench, jaws to close, heart beat rise. Notice what it feels like to want to fight back. Honor it. You are alive, and there is something worth fighting for. Then stop, breathe, and ask: How do you channel the fight impulse into something that gives life? 
  • Develop these three things: sword, shield, sacred community.
    • First, ask yourself: what is your sword, your kirpan? What can you use to fight on behalf of others—your pen, your voice, your art, your pocketbook, your presence? Begin where you are, your home or campus or community, on the front lines or behind the scenes.
    • Second, what is your shield, your dhal? Ask yourself: What can you use to protect yourself and others when the fight is dangerous—your camera, legal counsel, a group of allies, public witness? Your safety matters.  How will you protect yourself and others?  What brings you joy, lifts your spirits, and helps you breathe?  
    • Finally, who is your sacred community, your sangat? Ask yourself: Who are three people in your life who will fight with and for you and others? If you are not able to imagine three people, start with one or two. What communities can you fight alongside with?  Explore community organizations that fight for justice, especially those where women of color are free to lead. 
  • Explore the roles you play in a social change ecosystem
  • Explore the histories of social movements, which teach us that social change is created by everyday people. Surround yourself with examples of diverse, grassroots campaigns for justice, rooted in love, that people have fought, and won
  • Work in solidarity with other communities by learning how to act as a strong ally or accomplice. Know that the continual act of allyship–or acting as an accomplice, as indigenous leaders offer–requires both commitment and humility. There are numerous anti-racism support services available, including anti-racism resources for white people.