Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The voice of a rebel

"No" cries the voice emphatically. The head shakes vigorously. You give up the battle even before you had even started it. The plate of mashed apple that you had prepared with great care looks equally defeated and dejected. And she declares victory, your one year old daughter who has just learnt how to say no. Do we ever wonder how and why our children learn to say "no" so early and so clearly? It is because -
  1. that's what they keep hearing from us when they start their journey into the world of naughtiness exploring the unknown world of forbidden corners
  2. its easier to learn to say "no" than to learn to say "yes" when you start speaking
  3. all children are born rebels till life teaches them otherwise
1 and 2 may be fine but I believe the answer is 3. And that our natural rebellion is subdued and wiped out by years of conditioning, rules and perennial "no" from higher authorities. So much so that we often end up becoming cogs in the wheel, indistinguishable from each other, devoid of rebellion, reminding one of Tennyson’s Crimean War poem “Theirs not to reason why, theirs just to do and die”.

And then there a few rebel souls who keep saying no all their lives. History speaks of rebels from Spartacus to Garibaldi who dared to be different, leading their teams to revolt, war and victory. Not just rebel leaders, entrepreneurs, teachers, social leaders, business leaders, a lot of them are often looked upon as rebels. They are the ones for whom George Bernard Shaw would have said "You see things as they are and ask, "Why?" I dream things as they never were and ask, "Why not?". And they are the ones who often ending up changing our age-old perceptions and indeed, the world.

But rebellion doesn't come easy and its never without a price. For all the would be rebel souls, those at crossroads in their lives and those who are rebels-in-waiting, here’s a rebel theme song from me. For, to rebel or not to rebel should not be the key question.

I am not a fly on the wall,
You can’t swat my will, you can’t make me fall.
You can’t make me a cynic try as you may,
I still have a dream and I will find a way,
To be free from being a cog in this wheel,
Have the courage to be different and to feel,
And to think and to reason and question why,
Not just do what I am told till I die.
Stupid rebel you may label me,
And I know you won’t walk with me,
But I’ll stand for things I believe in,
I won’t always play to win.
I won’t sell my soul; your wallet is not big enough,
I can live with my dream, the world is big enough.
They say,
“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears”.
I would rather take my chance, be myself, even if it leads to bitter tears.
Stupid rebel you may label me,
And I know you won’t walk with me,
But I’ll stand for things I believe in,
I won’t always play to win.

So, next time my child shakes her head with a vehement no, maybe I won't feel like hitting my head against a wall. Maybe I'll listen and I'll say to myself, "relax, this maybe the voice of a rebel". The mashed apple may be the beginning and just a sign. Who knows if she will create history one day? Today's rebel could be tomorrow's leader.

I end with this quote on rebellion that defines a lot of rebels. “Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being." Albert Camus, The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt

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