In a previous article, I wrote about how being serious and thinking logically together, along with following rules and traditions provided you with peace and security of mind at the cost of limiting your imagination and creativity. But it also made me realize that most innovative, playful revolutionary thinkers were considered rebels of their time because they thought or acted differently than the rules or tradition demanded. From Elvis Presley and his “immoral” way of dancing to Edgar Allan Poe and his “grotesque” writing style, the majority of people who have stood out in their field throughout history have done so by doing just that: gaining other people’s attention by behaving differently than they were expected to behave. And who are the most notorious rebels in our culture? Teenagers.
If you ask most creative people about their childhood, they will tell you how much trouble they usually got into – it’s a time when you have no say in what you must do. You are forced to study things you don’t really care much for or agree with for that matter. I was, and still am, a very stubborn individual who many people find hard to deal with. I will do the opposite of what everyone else is doing just for the sake of contradiction even if I know it’s going to end bad for me. I put my mum through hell in my youth (from running away for a couple of days when I was four, to testing my teachers limits and getting under their skin), and sometimes think my rebelliousness played a part in driving her literally insane.
But I’ve never seen rebelliousness as a bad thing. When my teachers started comparing me to my classmates and saying: “Why can’t you be more like Simon who is so obedient…”, they actually said the ‘obedient’ part like it was a quality to be proud of. I just couldn’t understand it, I had to tell them “Do I look like a dog to you? Would you like me to wag my tail perhaps? Which shows you more intelligence? The kid who’s doubtful, because doubt shows questioning intelligence, or the dim-witted one that can’t think for himself so accepts everything and does as he is told??”
Entering my teens I started observing my peers. Unlike in primary school, everyone was now being rebellious, which frustrated my rebellious side because if everyone else was doing it, it kind of took away the whole purpose of the act. So instead I became a calm, quiet teen that did as he was told and tried to be nice to everyone. But I came to some conclusions about why my fellow youngsters decided to give in to their “rebel” sides and become inconveniences to our intellectually rewarding society of Bosses, Teachers and Parents …
Blind Faith Vs. Educated Doubt
Apart from the obvious fact that teenagers start forming their personalities once they reach a certain age and anything done to try and control them creates anger in their testosterone-fueled bodies, there are three basic other factors involved in Rebellion, and one of the principal ones is Education.
In the past, having a proper education was something optional and only available to the wealthy who could afford it. Now the youth of the world are well-educated, and to the educated mind the old ideas, traditions and establishments seem ridiculous. They might have been created in the past, but they have no future.
With education came science, which was taught to the youth. With each generation science started progressing and making discoveries that contradicted everything modern day youth had been taught by the older generations. This led to the problem that education was creating a generation that was pre-trained to be doubtful – unlike the old cultures and civilizations that were pre-trained to act on blind faith.
This gap of faith and doubt created the frustration and problems between each generation making it impossible to see eye to eye. The youth not only looked for a faith that could be scientific, but they sought one that was unafraid of being doubted, one that would allow you to start with doubt and end with faith. The paradox comes when the authority figures such as teachers and parents who taught us to be doubtful through knowledge, expect us to begin with blind faith in believing everything they say instead. This is where the perception of the “rebel” comes from.
Apart from my rebellious personality, I’m genetically a very paranoid person, having many trust issues, so I always wondered, is having doubt in everything something positive or not?
I believe it is. Why? Because faith that begins with doubt is much deeper, it is unafraid of being doubted. This is the problem I have with religions amongst many other things. If something is afraid of being doubted and asks you to blindly trust in it … you start to wonder: if it has nothing to hide, why isn’t it brave enough to allow you to doubt it?
Doubt isn’t against faith, it works towards it! It’s a tool you can use, if you use it rightly. And once you come upon that faith, it will be well grounded and won’t just be a blind belief.
I used to travel so much when I was little that when someone would ask me where I was from, I would answer “I’m a citizen of the world”. But we all are, and that’s the second cause of rebellion.
First came education which brought science, and then science brought technology. Now, the world is slowly becoming one due to the biggest global uniting force ever: the internet.
Local traditions have begun to fade away, with the world coming closer to one culture, and one civilization. What we have right now are many semi-cultures and civilizations, in which some are following traditional ways of living, while others are jumping on the bandwagon of the “one culture” concept, therefore creating total universal chaos and confusion, or in other words: rebelliousness.
The sad thing is that the world is losing its individuality. You have white guys dressing with baggy clothing and speaking like black people, and you have Indian women who don’t wear traditional beautifully colored Sari’s anymore, but short-shorts and tank tops. Before it was impossible to rebel against your culture because you weren’t aware that there was anything else available, but now, after being exposed to the media and the possibility of traveling, people are becoming aware that there are multiple alternatives. The world has become an open world.
The solution to the current chaos in the world would be to create a single world culture, where everyone is free to wear or do whatever they want without having to be judged and tagged as rebellious. But before that can happen, all local cultures would have to disappear. And that wouldn’t be possible for quite some time unless the whole world finds a mutual enemy – the same type of effect that occurs in a country when it goes to war; the suicide rate lowers because everyone is united in a common preservation cause. But for the whole world to unite and become friends it would take a war against Alien invaders to protect our planet.
So in conclusion, it’s not really that the youth are rebellious, they only appear that way. In fact the real reason behind rebellion is the resistance shown by the old traditions, rules and establishments to accept the new type of world that is forming. They’re still trying to hold on to the known and secure, creating a friction of identities and lack of order. Think of it as a world who suffers from bipolar disORDER.
The third and final cause of rebellion is time-consciousness, and similar to the second cause it also involves education. In fact, the whole act of rebellion has some type of connection to education because without an educated set of rules to follow, how could you rebel against not being allowed to do, say or think whatever you want?
As education progressed and the doubtful mind was created, it started to doubt the very religion it had followed for so long with blind faith, creating a sense of restlessness and anxiety. Why? Because most religions promise one thing, the solution to the very thing humans are afraid of the most: eternal life after death, may it be through a heaven, hell or even reincarnation. But now, we’ve started wondering: “What if life isn’t eternal and there’s a limit? What if there’s only one shot at life and the present is all that we have!?”
We have witnessed the effects of world wars and have seen the creation of the atomic bomb for the first time in history, one bomb that can destroy half the world’s population with the push of a button. We also have technology that can make our daily lives easier or alternatively kill us; cars, motorbikes, trains, elevators and airplanes. Thanks to the media we now are aware of all the horrible things that are happening in the world right now; poverty, serial killers, illnesses, terrorists etc …
Apart from having blind faith in the idea of life after death, our ancestors didn’t have as many threats, or at least weren’t aware of most of them, and that gave them more peace of mind. That’s why the traditions in the past changed very slowly compared to the velocity with which everything is changing right now. For hundreds of years woman were considered inferior and only useful for reproduction and housework, men were considered the providers for their family’s, and their daily routines were composed of the most monotonous events you could think of (collecting wood was probably the highlight of their day). Only in the last 160 years or so did all of this began to change. Suddenly we became aware thanks to doubt, and all of our imminent threats, so that making the most of the present moment was our best chance of enjoying life because there was no guaranteed future.
Rebellion is a side effect of education and education is needed for world progression. To me the causes of these modern day rebellious minds are positive signs. They are signs that through rebellious thinking, the world is slowly working to create a new type of united civilization where a new type of mind can be born.
What do you think?