There is so much written about rebels, in particular eulogizing them, that they may seem like heroes, which often is the case, at least in the short run. But to be a rebel without a cause, which is increasingly the case among the youth is reflective of a world in which ethics and morality are all confused now. This lack of reasons to rebel or rebelling only in defense of one’s own private interests or to constantly feel threatened by the world around and therefore offending others, are all signs of modern rebels. These are there in all categories of people, and artists more so seem to be rebelling against everything, or lending their voices to most rebellions again without seeing whether it is a philosophical issue or just a thing of gaining more popularity. This young man in the picture is a symbol of a generation finding meaning in rebellion, without knowing what the rebellion is against. Lacking of a philosophical basis often makes rebels into vacuous people, for they just rebel for the sake of rebellion, without having the goal of any rebellion in mind- personal or social.
If we look at the architecture of a rebel’s psyche likely the foundation of it would somewhere lie in patriarchy, I mean in opposing patriarchy– even among men. It is not as if men are the ones who are symbolic of patriarchal values in society, they are equally the sufferers too. In trying to subvert patriarchy in their own lives they become rebels, often without a cause. In the end it boils down that such rebels only reinforce a structure they set out to challenge, because they could not look beyond the surface of their own self interest. So a person who is lording over the rest in his/her family is only doing what s/he has experienced in their life- dominance, which is typically a patriarchal attribute, as opposed to collaboration, which is a feminine one.
We all rebel against something, usually in our youth or childhood- and it often begins from the family. Within the family there is a person or group that becomes symbolic of the larger environment of patriarchy that is prevalent in society and who wants to uphold the family structure/social order the way it has always been- the one/s who push tradition and structures down the throats of the younger lot, creating rebels. So the rebels ought to slowly understand that they have to find a real cause, and not just waste their lives in fighting their families or whatever oppression they have faced in their lives or its outcomes from within the family milieu.
Patriarchy was not created in a day but in centuries and it passed from one generation to the next so subtly and invisibly that nobody knew it was there. Women as much as men are carriers of patriarchy and its values of dominance, control, ownership of resources, moral coercion and authority. Rebels who truly want to be rebels need to understand that their rebellion ought not to be against patriarchal values and structures within the families alone. Most mental illnesses comes from this source, especially anger based issues or where anger has been repressed. In rebelling against one set of people at a time, and not a whole lot of them as a class- one becomes mentally distressed and offensive, which invites others to subdue them by word, logic, medicine or incarceration. The only viable alternative is to understand the roots of mental distress, connect it to patriarchy, see its role in your personal life and instead of changing things within your family, try to contribute to a larger systemic change. When we create peace for the world or justice for others, we automatically do so for ourselves also. But if we set out to create something just for ourselves, we will only either fail and be isolated or create and spend all our time defending it.
If all the people in the world have a house to live in and food to eat, we would not have to worry about leaving our kitchens locked. It is only when there is hunger in the world, we fear that we could get robbed. Kitchen is a metaphor for all that we cherish and value. Suppose everyone has a brick of gold, so who would want another’s now, unless he is really greedy? That is the gist, in the salvation of everyone lies the salvation of the rebel, not merely one’s singular salvation. The Buddha understood that long back, and decided to ignite the Buddha-hood in scores of others. But we have to do it in every age. Again and again- for we have to be rebels for the world at large, not just for ourselves. Therein lies salvation.