2/13/16

Refining a Rebellion


What is a rebel? A man who says no: but whose refusal does not imply a renunciation.
Albert Camus
As a young man, I fancied myself a social rebel, a non-conformist with a mean streak. I was that outspoken student who would look for even the simplest excuse to challenge authority. I refused to follow the norms and rules, as I bulldozed my way across life. I hung out with the wrong people and did the wrong things. I wanted to change the world, so I set off to questioned society and its moral rules with every action and every comment I made, as I was convinced that this would give me some kind of power over how my life would turn out. Life doesn’t work like that.

As I look back, I have come to realize how alike everyone within that social crowd dressed, acted, spoke, and thought of themselves as rebellious independents. Makes me reconsider just how much of a rebel I actually was? It also makes me thankful that all of this happened before all social mishaps end up in YouTube. It also makes me think about all those social activists who go from one protest to another, were protesting takes center stage over actually making a difference.

Way too many people want to challenge the world, rebel against authority, prove just how independent they are. So they set up to do exactly what the rest of the “rebellious” crowd does. They lay in wait, as their social media feed tells them what to be offended off or what social justice bandwagon to get onboard. And as if pre-coordinated and pre-orchestrated, we see how profile pics change as the massive “injustice” du jour taints everyone’s face. What was once acts of rebellion are currently the norm. What was once viewed as challenges to the establishment have now become the social establishment?

So this leaves us with a rather interesting question; what is a modern rebel? It still is the person who’s willing to stand against the social paradigm, so a simpler question should be “what is the social paradigm?” Well, based on social media, it’s to protest simply to be cool, were insults and judgmentalism are more important that making a difference, as “look at me” overtook “let me take a hard look at myself.”

Ironically, when you start looking at the word “rebel” from that perspective, the result is rather amusing.

In a society that tells you to be selfish, being loyal is rebellion.
In a society that tells you to hate everyone else, being kind is rebellion.
In a society that tells you to conform to mediocrity, giving that extra mile is rebellion.
In a society that tells you to follow viral videos and consume media, getting off your ass and living life is rebellion.
In a society that tells you to call out everything wrong in everyone else, working to fix what’s wrong within yourself first is rebellion.

When you thing about it, society has now become this angst obsessed judgmental hypocrite child who refuses to grow up and take accountability for itself. With that in mind, it’s amazing how being a rebel can now be summed up in a simple manner.

Taking care of yourself and those around you
Treating others with respect
Expecting more from yourself
Being a decent human being

Funny how much of this can be defined with one simple term.
Gentleman.