If you Really want to be a Rebel, Practice Kindness.

One of the features of our times is that everyone wants to be a rebel. Wanting to be unconventional and opiniated is a sign of the times. Valuing independence is part of survival, after all. It’s considered cool to be a rebel and rebellion has become a part of everyone’s life. But the thing is that it is often being misperceived with being bold and free, whereas to a certain extent it is more an indication of feeling fragile.

When you row against the current for something that is important to you, it can be that you are just fighting for what you believe in, which is a good thing, and it is rooted in a strong personality. When you rebel just for the sake of rebellion, however, with no apparent reason, you are very likely feeling vulnerable and isolated, which is sad and deplorable.

I’m a member of that last club. My whole life I was a rebel, thinking that I was establishing a pleasurable life for myself, that I was challenging the status quo, while I was just trying to survive spiritually. I went against the grain and broke established rules, only to compensate for an inner weakness.

Certain rebel personalities are merely about asserting power and control over others, which in my view is even more shameful than doing it because you are trying to conceal your sensitivity. Rather than resisting the impulse to fight, to judge, to complain, this kind of rebel will always find a reason to revolt.

True rebels, however, are very different from the above variations. They are not against rules or what others say, simply for the sake of causing conflict. They will protest things because they believe in a cause, and can communicate about it with confidence. They fight injustice, and question accepted standards or customs, because they are smart enough to know how these came about, and how little sense they often make.

Because there is logic to the seeming insanity of true rebels. They know the value of independent thinking and are not afraid to stand alone, as they believe the group is usually wrong. They don’t accept the status quo without question. They are kind and intelligent, besides being very passionate, compassionate, and determined. Sometimes they may come across as arrogant, but they are in fact faithfully working for the general interest of the population as a whole. They are original thinkers, have an unlimited enthusiasm, and they show great courage when facing overwhelming opposition. They are heroes, to me, as they can provide a powerful force for positive change in the world. Our world would also be less colorful without them.

My entire life I thought that I was a member of that last group of rebels, but I wasn’t. Unfortunately I was one of the rebels who were trying to veil their inner weakness. Where did this weakness come from? I’d say most likely it derived from my upbringing, at home and at school. When I was young it was believed that parents needed to be very authoritarian and that teachers needed to be strict, if children were to grow up to be responsible adults. That this tough love often translated into mental and physical cruelty, was covered with the cloak of charity, because that was how it had always been, and it supposedly hadn’t done anybody harm. Today I am certain that my sense of powerlessness is stemming from those horrendous childhood experiences. My unruliness was nothing else than a compensatory system.

So, next time you meet a rebellious person, consider the idea that he or she might be somebody with a heavy past. Show some compassion for them. As for the true rebels, we have to value them for what they do and how they are, as they are humbly doing a dirty job for the rest of us, by healing the world one small deed at a time.

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  • Lennaert Leo

    What's happening DLK, are you getting old and soft and weakhearted? ;-) Just kidding, very good piece and well written as always. And you are absolutely right about the different categories of rebels and which ones are the true heroes. One thing I've been pondering for the last half hour: do people really all want to be rebels nowadays? I'm not sure. Or maybe they do, but they aren't, not even for the wrong reasons. I have the feeling most people still want to blend in, rather than stand out. They might want to be rebels, but not on their own. The thing is that nowadays they easily can find a group of people on social media that is against something they also want to be against. They can join the group and safely rebel along. Is that true rebellion? I think it's not. What do you think?

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