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?

VALUABLE LESSONS FROM THE SPIDER

You must’ve seen me around you some time or the other. In case you haven’t, you must’ve at least heard about the encounter of the valiant king Robert Bruce with one of my brethren. Let me remind you about that encounter in brief. The king of Scotland, Robert Bruce had been defeated six times in battle by the army of England. He was dejected and was in hiding in a cave. That’s when he spotted one of my brethren trying to spin a web – attempting again and again till success was achieved. King Bruce was inspired and got up to attack England again. This time he was victorious!

We spiders don’t have lofty ambitions. But, we are pretty much target-oriented. Whatever target we fix, we make sure to achieve it. We don’t leave any work undone if its within our capacity. Take for example, spinning our webs. At times we face external hindrances while spinning our webs. Gusts of winds blow them away, rains wash them away or humans brush our webs off to keep their houses clean. But, we start all over again. We do not give up! Well, yes, we create nuisance for humans by finding a space for ourselves in the corners of their houses till we are discovered. But, then that’s how we survive. Think of it human readers – don’t give up till your targets are achieved. Don’t get discouraged by hindrances. Keep working on your goals with focus, and you will attain success in the work of your hands.

Do you know why we spin webs? To trap prey for our food. You would’ve observed the fine threads of a spider’s web. Let me tell you one secret about the threads. They are our unique gifts. These are not ordinary threads. The threads we spiders use are fine silk threads produced by our silk glands. Again, there is no uniformity in the type of silk that we use to spin the web. The threads can be thick or thin, dry or sticky, rough or smooth. We use the type of silk depending upon the prey that we are planning to trap for the meal. After all, like human beings, we too have our meal moods and varying tastes! We are grateful to our Creator for gifting us with such special silk glands. Our Creator has gifted something special to each of His creation. Discover the special ability you have been blessed with and use it to proclaim your uniqueness.

We don’t hesitate to enter into lofty towers or kings palaces, though we are negligible, tiny and unwanted. We give priority to our survival tasks. A wise writer writes about us, “The spider skillfully grasps with its hands, and it is in kings’ palaces.” We want to encourage you not to be taken aback by the gigantic personalities in your lives – but, to be clear about your tasks and prioritize them even if it would require you to barge into unwanted terrains and face difficult people.

You may have observed another thing about us. We walk on our ways alone. You will never see clusters of spiders together spinning a web. We don’t hesitate to walk alone on our paths. Teamwork is good, desirable and essential in certain circumstances. But, in our lives, we walk the way on our own. A message to our human readers, don’t be afraid to walk your path alone. You may not always find favourable company or the support that you desire. But, that shouldn’t stop you in your tracks. Keep on moving ahead by yourself knowing that your Creator is close beside you.

I believe I have given a brief peek into myself and those belonging to my clan. You’ll find us everywhere – of course, the type of our species depends upon the climatic conditions of the place. Antarctica is the only continent that remains unchartered for us. But, now with the global temperatures increasing, we’ll be there soon too.

So yes, fix your targets, discover your special inner abilities, prioritize your goals without being afraid of people or circumstances and lastly, never hesitate to walk the path alone.

Next time, you spot one of my brethren, be sure to recall and strive to practise these four lessons!

THE CRAWLIES WHO LIVE IN DARKNESS BEFORE GETTING WINGS

Eew! Eeks! Boo! Spooky! Scary! Aaa…!

We usually utter such words whenever we spot a creepy crawly around us. As I start writing on this topic, I feel the tickling sensation as if a bug is going to hop upon my arm or I am going to step on those wiggly worms!

In spite of the petrifying feeling these little creatures give, they are fascinating, at least for the kids. That’s why there are so many children’s books written on these creepy crawlies.

Lio Lionni’s Inch By Inch depicts the story of an inchworm who tries to measure the world around him and avoids being eaten by predators.

There’s an interesting book by Jane Yolen, Bug Off which is a collection of creepy crawly poems, which in fact are very inspirational, eg.-

An army of ants, in their working class pants,

They don’t sop for movies, they don’t stop to dance.

The Very Greedy Bee by Steve Smallman is about how the bees who apart from sharing the nectar, share the load also.

The crux of the matter is that there is a lot to learn from nature, even from the teeny-weeny organisms.

One of the favourite books of children is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. My kids love it so much that I read it to them almost every day, especially to my 3-year-old. It describes the journey of a caterpillar who starts his journey from an egg and transforms into a beautiful butterfly. It is such a fascinating book in which the caterpillar eats so much that he becomes big and fat from tiny.

That’s one of the most important jobs of a caterpillar- to eat. They eat as much as 27,000 times the weight of their body during the life cycle. Also called the eating machines, caterpillars have the fastest growth rate than any animal.

(Preeta, with her tiny friends)

Another distinct feature of caterpillars is that it may have upto 4000 muscles in its tiny body. No, I am not kidding. It’s really strange that nature has made us such- we humans with just 650 muscles in a huge body might suddenly start feeling so small!

Caterpillars outgrow their skin and also shed it 3 to 5 times. After the final detaching, they stick themselves on a tree branch and enter the pupa stage. After the process of metamorphosis, they become moths or butterflies.

Sometimes, I also wish I could develop a cocoon around myself so that I can have a “me time” and transform myself, shedding all the pessimism inside me!

One typical trait of caterpillar really surprises me is that despite 6 pairs of eyes, it has poor eyesight and relies on its antennae for searching food. In order to be safe, caterpillars group themselves in a row, mimicking a snake and fooling the predators.

Some caterpillars also associate themselves with ants in order to seek protection and provide them food as a reward. Now, that’s I call business!

We all are vulnerable, yet unique. We feel inferior, yet are beautiful inside. So, keep the faith, just hold on and fly high.

“Just when the caterpillar thought “I am incapable of moving,” it became a butterfly.” 
― Annette Thomas

THE MESSAGE FROM BRAIN CRAMP!

Have you ever gone to the kitchen but forgotten why have you gone there?
Have you ever broken the egg, spilt it in the wash basin and the eggshell in the frying pan?
You caught the bus for office but got down elsewhere!
In your conversation with your friend, you said some words without understanding the proper meaning of it!

Yes! Such an incident happens in our lives every day and that’s what BRAIN CRAMP is all about.

BRAIN CRAMP is a momentary mental lapse, such as an inability to remember something, to focus one’s attention or to understand something. It is such a condition when our mind is elsewhere and something is forgotten or done incorrectly because of it. A moment in which we fail to think clearly or act sensibly.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you and me are mentally sick people!

In fact, it is just a momentary mental lapse due to our unfocused state of mind, inattentiveness or overconfident thinking. By and large, it is working and talking with a preoccupied mindset.

This Tuesday morning I got a direct bus to my office and as usual, I turned on YouTube to watch my favourite lecture. I was so engrossed in the lecture that I forgot I am on the right bus and need not change it. By the time, I realized it I had left that direct bus, wasted 10 minutes waiting for another bus and had paid extra 10 rupees.

Another day, we were in a serious chat and my friend was deeply hurt by my question. As a matter of fact, I never intended to hurt my friend yet my way of posing the question diluted the tone of my message.

The good news for the people suffering from Brain Cramp (the momentary mental lapse) is, it happens only with the people of healthy mind and the bad news is there is no capsules or tonics for its cure.

Now, the question is – WHERE TO FIND THE HEALING?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

The human being is created with the absoluteness of freedom of thinking and expression though at times it might charge you an arm or a leg. However, the blessing in this disguise is, initially the remote of our thoughts are UNDER OUR CONTROL. All that it asks is tuning properly with the proper channels of our thoughts.

While driving on speed it is obvious to slip off track but eventually, the question is – ARE YOU STEERING BACK TO THE TRACK?

Flopping once off the track is quite obvious and worthwhile to learn but FLOPPING REGULARLY SIGNIFIES OUR DIVERSION FROM OUR FOCUS.

Brain Cramp is obvious in our life and its message is -“Darling, you need an introspection”.

The Bible says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life”.

Keep thinking!

BULLYING – LET’S SEARCH THE TIPPING POINT TO STOP IT!

“Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate or aggressively dominate others. The behaviour is often repeated and habitual”.

Bullying”  term often passed off as “just kidding” is a fatal catalyst that could trigger something as catastrophic as “Suicide ” and I am not “kidding” about it.

Let us see a few statistics (source: hail google)

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC.
  • For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 per cent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 per cent have attempted it.

For the past few days, I have been reading some horrific incidents about how kids mostly in their teens took their lives when cornered by bullies.  That really shook me. I was wondering can it be so strong to push someone to take such a harsh step?  I have too experienced bullying (though it was very short-lived, and at a  very, very young age) I was six at that time, got admission in a new school and my seniors (not in age or class but they were in that school since kindergarten 😁) started bullying me, well sort of! pulling my hair, teasing me, grouping against me and so on.  I told my father about it, he laughed it off (probably because of our age and the age we lived in, that was only innocence) and said make friends with them, everything will be fine.  Though they were never on my friend list things were better and the bullying stopped.

But unfortunately, that’s not the case with many.  And the severity of the issue has also increased by leaps and bounds.  There are a plethora of examples where bullying led victims to take the extreme step. But can bullying be directly proportionate to the suicides we witness?  Can it be so oversimplified?  NO! As I said earlier bullying is a catalyst, when coupled with issues like depression, mental health problems, hopelessness etc. the results are as fatal as Suicides.

So when talking about bullying the aforesaid issues must be touched upon, but who is going to do that?  Awareness is the tool that could hit the nail on the head.

Role Of Parents –   Kids learn from their parents (a lot). The simplest form of bullying – teasing someone based on their physical appearance (body shaming) or calling names, this is something kids many times learn from their parents.  And the sad thing is such things are often dusted off as “for fun”, “was kidding”, “wasn’t serious”, to begin with, and when unchecked that could possibly acquire a monstrous face.  I am just giving an example, just a tip of an iceberg.  Considering this, parents have to be really watchful about their behaviour and words in front of their kids.  Their outlook towards things and people affect and shape the psyche of their kids to a greater extent, if not fully. Rest is all about evolving.  One thing to be remembered: Making fun of others isn’t funny.

Notice, Talk and Listen: This is the Tipping Point that could make all the awareness campaigns work. Reading the silence or unusual symptoms like social withdrawal is the first and foremost step that needs to be taken by family members (read well-wishers, could be beyond family ties).  For instance, if a person who is normally a happy soul, a social person chooses solitude and prefers staying silent, that’s a clue big enough to initiate “Talk“. Many times victims are unable to decide whom to confide to and the pain starts building up and inability to crack their silence leads to the disaster. So reading signs at the right time is of utmost importance.  When the Talk is initiated, compassion and patience is a must.  The victim might not be able to give in at the first attempt, may try to conceal but persistence is the key here. Counselling from professionals is also helpful because they have their own tricks up their sleeve to let the victim release the flow of emotions bound for long.  And when they Talk, it’s important to Listen, to believe them and to respect their vulnerability. There is an ample number of cases when complaints are dismissed with statements like “it happens everywhere “, “don’t be a crybaby”, ” take it as fun” and so on.  Isn’t it enough proof that if a person is getting affected by something, which is “harmless” as per your perception then there is much to look out for or unearth?  Motto may be to instil some courage but rather their words are doing more harm than help.  Words have to be put together with utmost care so as to boost up the confidence of the person getting affected by this bullying business.  And again if someone thinks it’s beyond their capability take the help of a professional.

The “HELP” is meant for both the parties, this is my strong belief.  For the bullies, it is about the right kind of education (not just literacy). Any attempt or sign of being rude to a fellow human being shall be nipped in bud.  For the victims – it is about counselling and emphasizing on the fact “that people who laugh at you are either jealous of you or don’t have a better business. And that already makes you strong, go ahead with this strength “.