This week I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the great rebels, folks like Gandhi, Che Guevara, Simone De Bovoir, MLK Jr, Steve Jobs, Father Bob Franklin. Cos that’s who we think about when bringing to mind rebels, isn’t it? Salvador Dali and Picasso challenging the conventions of their art form, Tarantino making films as love letters to his favourite genres, and Martin Luther rebelling against the Vatican.
What I want to know is why? Why do we identify with rebels? Why does the bad boy mystique permeate the collective consciousness, yet so few people are actually willing to rebel within their own lives? Why is it that we love our movie anti-heroes, the people who won’t accept what they see is abuse of power, of the degradation of the poor, the disempowered and the voiceless? Yet we remain apathetic to solve our own problems?
These people are the poster children for the rebellious spirit that permeates our collective consciousness. We deify these people, make moves and memes and instaquotes to inspire us, but do we actually follow their example? I look around my daily life and question whether we really are the “unrulable rabble” we paint ourselves to be. Sure, we point to Oscar Schindler, Oscar Wilde and Oscar the Grouch as people to aspire to be, holding them up as having the qualities we all instinctually have. The willingness to put ourselves, our knowledge and our skill in the service of speaking truth to power or helping humanity. But is that what the average joe does?
I’m going to be controversial and say no. Life is too busy isn’t it? We’ve got quarterly reports, kids sports and TV is so good right now. All these excuses, all this justification for not only failing to work to change this world for the better, but failing to have even the willingness to change their own lives for the better.
Why? Why is that?
Now what I just said, all that “no one is doing it” stuff, is just another excuse. It is, in fact, one of the most pervasive and debilitating excuses as to why we avoid standing up. The reason is we are all scared. It’s as simple as that. Scared of taking the leap, scared of standing up and making change because what if we fail? What if people realise we failed? What if people don’t like what I’m doing? What will happen to my family? What if I lose my job? What IF?
To that I ask you a just as simple question, So what? So what if you fail? You just try again, you try and you fail, try again, fail again, try again, fail again, at least you tried. We remember the Harriet Tubman’s of this world because instead of saying “What if?” they said “What if I don’t?”. Harvey Milk, Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill have 2 things in common. 1. They stood up for what they believed in and 2. We remember and revere them for that.
So, what do you believe? I don’t know and it’s not my place to tell you. I just ask, what are you doing about it? Did you do anything this week that supported the change you wanted to see in the world? Anything? Big or Small, did you do one single thing to change your world for the better? You had 168 hours to make use of. Did you take time to write to your local member of parliament about an environmental issue, start a creative project you’ve been putting off for years, or spend 30 minutes talking to your kid about why you think political literacy (left or right or centrist) is important? Did you learn something new that will build you up not just distract you?
This is what rebellion really is, saying no to the status quo, believing your world, your kids world, and other peoples worlds can be better and that you have the power to change it, in some small way, every day you’re breathing. We have limited time on the planet folks, what are you going to do? What will we remember you for? Will you be another cog in the machine and not leave any mark or will you create something bigger than yourself, something that lives on, a legacy for others to build on and climb even higher? What will your rebellion look like?
Disrupt the programming, disagree with the discourse, stand up and say No! when people try to pigeon hole you. Be the rebel, the rule breaker, the Rockstar. Even if you’re not changing the world today, if you are changing your life first, say you are worth more than they think you are. You are capable of so much, so much love, so much compassion, so much change. What are you waiting for? Permission? From who? Who has the right? You need no one’s ok to be you. So, one last time, what will your rebellion look like?
And as Always
Get Up, Get Out There, and Get Awesome
And ask yourself, Why Not?