Is rebellion ever a good thing? Is there a distinction between a rebellious mentality and rebellious actions? What does motive contribute to rebellion? All of these are valid questions and beg honest answers. In this article we will explore rebellion and being a rebel, and the many things which are associated to this nasty, yet somewhat alluring, concept.
Many times a rebel is portrayed as a ‘bad boy’ image. We conjure up a persona such as James Dean or some rock star. As with most things, being a rebel isn’t a static “one size fits all” type label. There are varying degrees and motivations which exist along a continuum. While rebellion against any and all authority is, by and large, anarchy, there are other forms of rebellion which actually bring about positive change. This is represented best by a synonym of rebellion…it’s called a revolution.
Mahatma Ghandi’s famous quote, “You must be the change that you want to see in the world”, is one of rebellion. The status quo is to point out to others how wrong they are acting and attempt at forcing them to change through logic. If that isn’t a possibility, we typically just swallow the bile of their unpalatable actions and complain about it to our friends and colleagues. To be the change you want to see in the world takes courage and a marked degree of swimming upstream. It can be seen as rebellious, but Ghandi’s form of rebellion slotted into the revolutionary area of the rebellion continuum.
Living out of a place of conviction because you believe in something that may happen to not be the traditional school of thought will be seen as an act of rebellion. Healthy rebellion and unhealthy rebellion are separated primarily by motive. Effect positive change in your environment by “being the change you want to see”, is based in a motive of improvement. You are assuming the responsibility to change yourself. You are not trying to change others through control and irate behavior, which is our typical view of rebellion.
When we live out of a place of conviction and we are being the change we wish to see in the world, we are exposing the negativity and ugliness of that which should be changed. Have you ever taken an old white t-shirt you thought was white, until you bought a new white t-shirt and laid it next to the old one? The dinginess of the old one wasn’t so easily seen until it was compared with something different…something unfamiliar. Our chosen actions are the same way with revealing the ugliness and dinginess of status quo actions.
I would encourage you to consider this idea of healthy rebellion. To not rebel, in a healthy and revolutionary manner, is to abdicate your role in society and become a victim to the very thing you dislike; in doing this, you are actually accepting it and perpetuating it. It is our social responsibility to live out our lives from a place of conviction, a place where our thought, word and deed are in agreement. Be the head and not the tail. Although you may be met with opposition, there is peace in living from this place. There is a great sense of satisfaction in knowing that you are being true to self and not living out of the expectations of those around you. This takes courage. Then again, nothing worth having in life is cheap or easy. Be rebellious. Be revolutionary. Change yourself. Change your world.