Rebels are made, not born. Right?

Slightly controversial!

Mom says, “Jimmy do your homework before you can go out to play.”

Jimmy says, “NOOO, I don’t want to do my homework now!”

Dad says, “Well, you can go to the party Gina, but be home by 9pm. That’s your curfew time!”

Gina stomps her feet saying, “Do you think I am a kid to follow curfew timings? I’m eighteen. Such rules don’t apply to me any longer!”

Rony tells Samaira firmly, “You are my wife. I don’t want to see you talking to any man without my permission. I don’t want you to venture out anywhere without my knowledge.”

Samaira quips sardonically, “Seems you have got my patent rights! Get it clear, I will not sell my independence to anyone – even if it’s you. As long as I know that I’m not in the wrong, I will not have you dictate me.”

Teacher says, “Children always follow the traffic rules; stop when the signal goes red and move forward when the signal says green.”

Vishal looks right, left, front and back to scan any eyes watching him and says to himself, “The road is clear, why waste a few minutes for the light to turn green. Rules are for fearful oldies. Let the queue get longer. I’m off on my way!”

Such and many other small and big episodes come to mind when we conjure up the image of a rebel. There are two sides to rebellion – one is innocent rebellion involving a mere refusal or passive resistance to obey and the other is violent rebellion involving hurling verbal or physical abuses, causing damages to self, others or property.

There is a difference between being strong-willed, to stand for ones rights and/or principles, and to be a rebel. Refusal to abide by accepted norms is what is termed as rebellion. Herein things become dicey. After all, who decides what ‘accepted norms’ are? What is the territorial jurisdiction of such ‘accepted norms’?

To give an example, in many places in India a girl/lady visiting a place of religious worship – be it a church or temple or gurudwara – wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt is frowned upon. One such blunder may be scorned at and forgiven. But, such repeated acts get the girl/lady labelled as a rebel to societal practices, of not being sanskari and ultimately leads to fingers being pointed towards the generational rebels of the family, poor upbringing and so on. Whereas, a girl/lady dressed in a similar attire in another part of India or elsewhere in the world would hardly draw a second glance of onlookers. So then are there certain traits that can be universally identifiable as acts of rebellion?

Rebellion is an intense form of protest. In all ages of human history, people have rebelled. Some rebel against certain societal practices, some against the heavy tax levied by rulers, some against oppression, subjugation and discrimination. Rebellion with a reason and for a cause is almost always supported by similar-minded sections of people. And, it always leads to visible outcomes – either in achieving the purpose or simply in arousing the consciousness of people towards the issue.

So then, it would be unfair to call rebellion as right or wrong without having a context to it. And this is simply because ‘accepted norms’ vary from family to family, from culture to culture and from country to country.

Having written all that I have above, I would like to emphasize on two things.

One, rebellion in ‘children’. A child is born into the world gifted with genetic prowess in many aspects. While the ‘self’ of the child is allowed to flourish, s/he is taken through certain environmental matrices. A refusal to be regulated by such environmental matrices when the child is yet to see and experience a larger world is a matter of deep concern. Because, such refusals are rebellions without reasons for no particular causes in mind – merely for fulfilling instantaneous self-gratifying desires. Such rebellions need to be checked by parents and well-meaning elders. Persistent rebellion (not merely one or two acts) in childhood leads to certain psychological disorders of childhood namely, Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) or Conduct Disorder, the details of which I will not be elaborating in this piece for the sake of brevity. Again, if these behavioural tendencies prevail through childhood and adolescence, we have them as antisocials and psychopaths as adults. And, so rebellion in children needs to be nipped in the bud without a doubt.

Second, rebellion against ‘God’. As I have written above, ‘accepted norms’ are relative. And in today’s world where geographical boundaries are increasingly getting blurred, intercultural exchanges are widely promoted, travel packages suit the pocket for touring different parts of the globe and every nook and corner of the discovered world can be explored from one’s living room with a few clicks and swipes, it is all the more mundane to define and stick to a large set of ‘accepted norms’. I’m sure most of us have surely tweaked some or the other ‘accepted norms’ of the previous generation. However, the revealed principles ordained by God are absolute. They do not change from culture to culture, from country to country or from era to era. There is no option of tweaking them, either. Lies, theft and murders were acts of rebellion against God when the world began and they still continue to be so in the post modern age. Such acts are rebellious against God in the famine-stricken poverty laden lands of Sudan and West Africa and they are equally rebellious acts in the affluent lands of America and Europe. And so, acts of rebellion against God dare not be committed. You wouldn’t play with fire, would you?

As adults we do decide to rebel against some of familial norms or societal folklores and mores with reasons and for certain causes. Though such acts of rebellion spin out emotional dramas, many a times, they are worth going in for. After all, society has been liberated from age-old dogmas and ill-practices by such courageous ‘rebellions’. Just imagine, if aware underage girls did not rebel against their family and society, but meekly conformed to practices of child marriage! Imagine, if no wives rebelled against their husbands’ diktat not to speak out in public, not to converse with men outside the family or not to venture outdoors without the husband’s permission! We may have been handed over a different world then.

Not all liberty comes the easy way. Some require rebellion. Rebel for a free life, rights, privileges, against atrocities and injustices. But, in our acts of rebellion with reasons and for causes, rebellion in children and against God ought to be strict ‘nos’. If defiantly reasoned against, they would lead to irreversible outcomes in this world and in eternity. Would a sapling rebel against sturdy trees in the forest? Would a pot rebel against the potter?


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