The power of conscious passivity
When we do not take action, we have taken action. It is not possible not to act, but we can choose not to respond in a conscious and self-aware way so our actions do not seem passive-aggressive.
When we are passive, we can avoid escalations of conflicts and invite a higher degree of curiosity, reflection, and holding more perspectives at the same time. But we have to stay in our passiveness in a very clear, direct, and awake state. When done skillfully, it can also be used to test boundaries, understand the motives of others, and to understand the subtleness or finesses of the situation.
On the positive side, “Passivity” can give everyone time to reflect and build a deeper understanding of a topic. It can be a very powerful way of giving voice to important matters, using hunger strikes, silent demonstrations, or art.
Some examples of a more positive use of passivity might be the Silent Parade of 1917 in New York City and Women’s Salons in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe. These examples are not passive in their nature but more a deterministic way of pushing for change.
On the negative side, “Passivity” could be about starting rumors to create fear in groups, societies, or populations. We see this done by rulers who use the fragmentation of the population to justify certain activities, and we see it by not acting when acting was the right thing to do. The areas of passivity can be nature preservation, climate activities, aggression, and war, and not interfering when human rights are not followed.
Your weekly question
Passivity can become aggressive if we do not take the necessary actions. And passivity can become the most powerful action to take if done with presence. This week’s question is about how you use your passivity with presence and care.
- What prevents you or holds you back when action is needed?
- When have you, in a creative, positive, and useful way, used passivity?
- How do you react when others are passive-aggressive towards you?
Your weekly quote
Passivity can hold more power than activity if done with presence and care.
Your weekly recommended reading