Rebel Rebel

Recently my entire class has been asked a question by our sociology teacher: do you think there are many rebels nowadays, and why? The answer to that was one of very few things the entirety of my class has ever agreed on: there’s not much rebellion today. Why? People don’t care about the community anymore, someone said. Young people have everything they want and no need to complain, said another. Then another one jumped in to say that we are manipulated to think we have everything we need and want, when actually we’re seduced and hypnotized into fake needs by the marketing industry and the media. Each of these answers deserves a special post for itself; alas, I decided to sum them up in a unique article about the world we live in today. Not very easy to manage, but I’ll do my best…

In my opinion, it’s true that people don’t care much about the community. However, I don’t think it’s a syndrome of the new age; I think that it’s in people’s minds to tend to take care of themselves and their own needs before taking care of the community. People are altruistic, yes, but that refers to an individual helping an individual; when it comes to a group or a mass, altruism changes into something that psychologists call motive of divided responsibility. An individual tends to think that, since there are other people in the group, someone else will surely react and there’s no need for them to get involved. Bad or good, nowadays it’s becoming the rule of our lives: don’t take part if you don’t have to. There are many people, young or not, discussing the world around them every day and coming across various problems that need solving and things that need changing; but they do not get involved. They don’t do anything. It all remains in the domain of fiction, because I can’t deal with that. I don’t want to start anything. Why bother? It’s such a drag. In the end, I’m not doing that bad to want to make a significant change. I’m happy with what I have and too lazy/unwilling/insecure to argue. There are people out there who are up to it. It’s not my place to do it. And so on.

This is where, I think, the problem arose – and that too has been mentioned as one of the answers to the original question: apparently, we have all we need, so why complain? Okay, we may not have all – one might even be so bold to say that, with mankind’s increasing greed, we’ll never have it all – but we have quite enough to keep satisfied and quiet. Yes, a change might be made here and there, but it’s not that important – it’s not absolutely necessary – so nobody protests. This is what I think differs now from 1980s or 1960s or 1789. People back then were shoved into a corner and told to make a life out of that. They had problems that choked them, socially, financially or any other way. Nowadays, people of the modern world seemingly don’t have such threats.

Or do they? Aren’t we forgetting, say, North Korea, Middle East, Africa…? Those people seem to be pretty life-choked – and they are very well protesting as much as they can. And what are we doing to help them? Is it getting any better? The answers are disappointing to the least.

Perhaps that’s another reason people don’t rebel – they think it’s in vain. What’s the point of trying, working hard to be heard, having so much at stake, if the achievement is next to naught? What’s the point in making a fool of yourself? – because there is no one else protesting, you’re the first one. You need to start it. What, me? Oh, no, not me. I’d rather somebody else did that. But we all would, wouldn’t we?

This is, of course, connected to the previous factors, most of all with the absence of necessity. Which then leads us to the question: if it were necessary, if the situation would be so bad that it would be absolutely necessary, would we rebel? In my opinion, we most certainly would. It is not in human nature to suffer what it doesn’t like.

It’s just that, as strange as it might sound, we like this. We’re used to how things work, we have enough to be satisfied (or we think so), so we ignore what we dislike, since we don’t dislike it extremely. We grew accustomed with certain unspoken rules of today’s society – just like all people did during history. And I believe we will overcome them, as they did; but I don’t think it’ll be done in rebellion. It seems to me that the rules will, one by one, slowly drift away and be replaced by new ones, without anyone noticing it as it happens. There will be no great revolutions or drastic changes, as one age will simply leak into another.

This is my point of view and it might not (actually, it probably won’t) agree with yours. Bear in mind that I live in Serbia, where things hardly ever change, not only because of what I’ve listed here, but also for a number of other reasons connected to Serbian mentality, national history and general state in the country. All of those have made this a very interesting topic for me to explore.

So, what’s the conclusion here? Are there rebels? Where are they? Should there be more of them? And how do we make it happen? What do you think?

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