THE YOUNG REBELS

This topic of rebellion has been discussed by my fellow writers throughout the week. I am writing in the fag end of the week but even after reading all the articles I am still not sure of my own opinion about rebellion. 

Is ‘Rebellion’ good or bad? The course of world history has changed due to the major rebellions or revolutions. We have grown up reading about the French revolution or the American Revolution. And the rebels have been hailed as heroes in these revolutions. 

But a rebellion need not always be of astronomical proportions. We see tiny rebellions in our everyday life. I will give you a few examples.

As a teenager I was a rule follower maybe because I was a bit timid and didn’t want confrontations. But my rebellions were visible in tiny ways- like my nail paint colours. I used to put all sorts of colours combinations on my nails. The horror expression on my father’s face when he saw my nails used to give me immense satisfaction. Once I had put a dirty grey colour speckled with gold and silver dots and my father commented that it looks like I have dipped my nails in the gutter outside and come. You won’t believe it I was so happy hearing this comment. I was just trying to assert my freedom by rebelling against the norms of those days. In today’s times I think almost everyone experiments with their nail paints so it would be considered normal. 

Even a small baby can rebel. You know how? Well almost every mother with a small baby will be able to relate to this. The child is crying for a feed and the mother is a little held up in some work. She finishes her chore and then comes to feed the baby. Now the infant’s patience has been tested in these couple of minutes delay. He will show his rebellion by crying out loudly and not taking his feed even though he is hungry now as he wants to show his displeasure at being put at second priority. Controlling this rebellion is a huge uphill task for the young mother. First the baby has to be placated and then fed.

Well those days are long gone in my life. Now I am a mother to two teenage boys. The outbursts of small mutiny and rebellion happen many times in my house now. Mostly it is against the rules we lay down for them. And usually I am the one who does the job of the mediator between them and their Dad. What I have noticed is that children try to test the limits set for them by their rebellions. And mostly succeed in pushing the boundaries a little with every tiny mutiny. We as parents have to balance between giving a little and keeping the discipline.

IS REBELLION A BAD THING?

Before the 20th century, the definition of the basic need for human survival was FOOD – SHELTER – CLOTHES, but with the advent of the 20th century this definition has been rephrased with MONEY – AFFLUENCE – INFLUENCE. Money can buy us the best and Affluence can keep it secure and Influence keeps us in the spotlight. The human mind always leans towards possessing the best things and living life in the best possible way. To acquire the best life some search through the spiritual context and the rest through the materialistic context. None of us are satisfied with the life we have! “Yeh Dil Maange More…” We humans COMPARE and COMPETE to acquire the best of life. In order to excide our competitors and achieve the best life, we seek the absolute freedom of choice in life. Whereas the truth is – FREEDOM COMES WITH BOUNDARIES. Since the absolute freedom of choice has the possibility to make the human “wild/uncivilized”, our freedoms in life are always bodyguarded with Dos’ and Don’ts. “Dont’s in freedom break out stories of ‘REBELLION’.” 

Like every growing Indian kid, from some of the lighter stories – my mom used to quote me, “Falling in love is not wrong. But falling in love with a wrong person and at the wrong age is absolutely wrong.” My dad had a strict rule, after 5 PM, you are not allowed to go outside of the home. Either you are a boy or a girl, it doesn’t matter. Whereas every Indian family doesn’t apply the same rule and, unfortunately, many of our friends hailed from such families. 🙂

Rebellion is majorly understood from a negative perspective whereas it holds both the Negative & Positive aspects of life. The Rebellion for freedom from the British Raj has given us the freedom to be the citizen of a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular and Democratic Republic Nation. It would be fallible to define, the concept of “REBELLION” from the fight-or-flight hormone understanding.

INTENT IS PRIOR TO CONTENT. Rebellion is the content of an intentional agenda. It is always the intent of man that initiates some particular actions to conquer a definite privilege. A corrupt intention for its fulfilment validates the manipulative ideas, makes devilish action plans and doesn’t bother about the consequences. Sir Theodore Roosevelt rightly says,

“A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car;

but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad”. 

In fact, the physical outlook of the rebellion in society/incident is organized and has a unity of people, but the unity with evil intent is always destructive. It is evident in today’s scenario of “Organized Crimes and Legalized loots”.

DEPTH OF MATURITY INTENSIFIES THE ACTION. Overall, the foundational principle of rebellion is “Tit-for-Tat”. The teen-agers’ reaction to their societal norms and family principles erupts on the basis of “you don’t listen to me, why should I listen to you!” Based on such principles rebellion causes destruction in society, blood-shedding in mass-strikes, curfew, manhandling of public property, family brokenness, and innocence death. One of the 10 Nobel prize-winning quotes of French Philosopher & Journalist Albert Camus –

“Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and 

an appeal to the essence of being….”

A matured man is always worried about the consequence of rebellion. The father of our Nation and the backbone of Indian freedom Mahatma Gandhi said,

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”.

Rebellion with evil intent and Rebellion to constitute truth managed without maturity is sin. Sin is not a weakness alone, as Oswald Chambers said, it is a disease; it is red-handed rebellion against God. Bible says,

All a man’s ways seems pure to his own eyes, but the LORD examines his motives (INTENT). A rebuke impresses a discerning person, whereas a fool rebels against God. The messenger of death will be sent against them.

TWO REBELLIONS TO KEEP AWAY FROM

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?

I LEARNED TO BE A REBEL

I don’t know if I was a rebel during my childhood days or not but now I am. I feel that some series of incidents have made me rebellious. When I was a kid, my family members would have mistaken my rebel nature for being a ‘demanding-kid’. I wanted things to be done according to my will but obviously you can’t win against parents. Therefore, they did what felt appropriate to them. Eventually, this instilled a feeling in my mind, “When you grow up, you have to show them how things should be done.”

It would be no wrong to say, I learned how to be a rebel. Yeah, that’s true! I learned, it is okay to oppose someone’s orders if you are uncomfortable. I learned, it is okay to be out of the box and pave your own way. Earlier I used to think that being a rebel is totally unacceptable and is no less than disrespecting parents. But then I realized what if I am not happy or comfortable with whatever my parents and relatives decide for me? For example, my parents felt that it is no use in letting me move to Bangalore after my graduation. My relatives too said, “You will be anyhow married in two or three years. So why not learn some household chores to impress your in-laws?” 

I thought – “Will I be doing nothing but trying to impress my in-laws for the entire life?” “Is my education meant only to grab a nice groom and household?” People told getting married to a nice groom will make your life peaceful and settled. In that case, I never felt that I am unstable or I do not have peace of mind. This is when I decided I have to bring out the rebel in me. I stood on my decision to move out of my hometown and do something. As a result, I am in Bangalore right now, living my rebellious life. 

But this doesn’t end here.

My parents and relatives feel that wearing short dresses and skirts will harm my image. Even today they say, “why do you have to wear shorts and skirts? Can’t you wear full clothes?” Honestly, I would have agreed to do so only if, they never saw those actresses dancing and posing in short clothes. I know they are often angry at me as I stay out till 12 in the night but that’s my way of living. I know that being out at 12 in the night has nothing to do with my character or values and therefore, I hardly surrender before them. The one who is involved in some wrong deeds can do it even in the daylight. 

Currently, I am rebelling for making my parents understand that I hate when they talk about me with those whom I hardly know. I am a reserved person, though I do sound like an extrovert. But I do not like it when my parents speak every single detail of my present to any random person. 

I do feel sorry for hurting my parents with my rebelling attitude but then, what’s the point when I am unhappy and suffering!! In that case, I won’t be able to make them happy and proud.

Therefore, I feel being rebellious unless you don’t cause a damage, in the long run, is absolutely fine. Also, you need to be responsible for whatever action you take. 

REBEL FOR GOOD

Sab gussa karte hain, main ghar chod ke jaa raha hun” (everyone scolds me, I am leaving the house) are the lines of an old advertisement where a 4 year old is sitting grumpily in a railway station, with his small bag, but returns home when his postman uncle tells him that his mother has prepared jalebis (a special sweets). We often hear such cute stories of little rebels and let go because they are too small to understand and follow their impulses.

I always preferred to go with the rules until I realised something good can also happen when you break the rules. When I was in Class X, two of our classmates went to play during the transition time, after the bell rang for another period. They came back to the class as soon as the next teacher entered. She got angry, obviously, and punished them. To my surprise, the whole class retaliated and everyone wanted the teacher either to let those two go or punish the whole class. I, along with my best friend failed to agree with our classmates as we felt that those two boys were at fault. However, our teacher got pleased with the unity of our class and withdrew the punishment. That day I realised that it’s perfectly all right if some rules are broken, provided there shouldn’t be any negative implication on anyone. 

During teenage, many times I opposed my parents, fought with them when scolded for being out late with friends after the 8’o clock deadline, for wearing clothes which they felt inappropriate,  for not getting permissions when I needed and for other whole lot of things.

Rebelling against my parents for the love of my life was one of the least things in my mind. I had earlier agreed to their rule of arranged marriage, but the destiny couldn’t find a suitable match for me. Later, when I found my eternal love, my parents opposed. Since I was confident of my choice, I continued to portray my conflicting views in front of their emotional saga, until they agreed for our match. Lo and behold, just after the engagement, they were more than happy with their son-in-law!

There is a ‘rebel’ in everyone of us and standing up against anything, for a good reason should be the mandate. One just has to remember the limits, lest to offend anyone.

BEING REBELLIOUS IS ONLY NATURAL

“As per the definition of rebellious, a rebellious person likes to challenge the authority and break the rules every now and then.”

Teenage is particularly connected with the word Rebellion. However, we need to understand what really happens at that age. Till the age of say 10 or 11, kids are used to being told what is needed to be done and how to conduct themselves in day to day life. Then suddenly around their 12th or 13th birthday, they start questioning everything that is told to them, they talk back, they even get violent and they want to do the exact opposite of what they have been told to do. 

Let us analyze what happens to other species on the planet. Animals, for example, leave the safe haven of their parents quite early; as soon as they have grown up enough to survive themselves. And for the sake of adaptation, it is really important they leave the safe home of their parents and mate with the beings away from them. 

Humans are too build in the same way. Physically, a teenager is grown up enough to survive himself / herself. They can take care of their food, clothing and shelter. To add to it, their hormones also drive them crazy to mate with the opposite gender. Comparing this to our animal kingdom, this is perfectly natural. If we lived like animals, teenagers would quietly leave their parents at the age of 12 or 14 and live their own lives. So, going by our animal instincts, teenagers are supposed to question the authority and step out of their houses so that adaptation can continue. So, what happens with teenagers is biologically ingrained in us for the sole purpose of adaptation and survival of our species. 

Now, what really have we humans messed up this nicely set up natural process. We have setup an adult age of 18 years. And typically a well-educated person starts earning only by 21 or 22 which means they need to depend financially on their parents and still live in that safe haven which they are physically and emotionally yearning to leave. 

One of my coaches once said – “It is absolutely normal for teenagers to think their parents are useless, rather it is important for their own growth. Only by questioning the traditions that their parents follow, will the kids identify with their own beliefs and personality. 

Slamming the doors, shouting at their parents, purposely creating issues for them, getting into addiction issues are all the signs of feeling unheard and misunderstood. Because they really want their parents to acknowledge the fact that they are growing up and can take decisions on their own. However, we parents out of love and fear for our kids – we still want to keep them inside our cocoon that we have built for them so carefully when they are ready and yearning to just fly away. 

When I was 17 years and just completed my 12th grade, I was super sure that I do not want to live with my parents at any cost. I wanted to leave them and live in the hostel and that was probably a very strong motivation to study really hard and get into an Engineering college. My dad was overprotective when it came to boys in my life. And since I was passing out of a convent girls school, I was eager to meet boys and experience that side of life. All hell broke loose, when after 1st year of my engineering – my dad discovered that I was happily enjoying all the attention I was getting from boys in college and was even interested in having a boyfriend. For a very long time, I felt extremely guilty about causing disappointment to my dad, it went away only when I realized that what I did was natural. I was about 18 and ready to experiment and experience life. 

What worries me is that when I hear pre-teens being rebellious. 9-10 year old cross questioning their parents, telling lies and getting into big problems. That needs to be understood. Why are kids growing up so early now? Why is the next generation maturing so early of their age? These are some of the pondering questions that trouble the parents today. 

As far as rebellious nature of teenagers is concerned, I think it is the duty of parents to be aware of what comes to them naturally and be a support for them instead of being control freaks.