~ The Unknown Rebel ~
We all have our personal heroes and sources of inspirations. Some of our past honorary Dead Rebels have included ingenious musicians, brilliant minds of science, religious nuts and prophets, departed relatives, Norse gods, video game characters, famous writers, tough chicks and even dead ideas and times past. In some small way we choose our rebels because they either inspire us to become greater than we are, or because we are in awe of something they did that we wish we had the guts or brains to do ourselves. Thus, we celebrate the very spirit of rebellion. We pay tribute to the idea that we can stand up for ourselves and tell the whole world to go fuck itself if it has a problem with anything we have to say, and that it’s our way or the fucking highway for all we care.
One of my very own personal rebels is probably shared by many others, as he has become somewhat of a poster boy for public protest:
The Lone Tiananmen Square Guy
To me, this one man symbolizes everything that is worth admiring about the spirit of rebellion. They say a picture says a thousand words and I can’t think of a louder silent protest, or a gutsier move, than standing alone in front of a formation of tanks that have been ordered to kill your friends and everything you believe in, and still not budging a fucking inch. Talk about not going quietly into that night.
We all look images like these and, independently, each and every one of us feel them take on totally different meanings. Some see the spirit of democracy trying to turn the tide of oppression. Some see Man vs. Machine and the frailty of our future. Some see what heartache and desperation can drive any of us to do when all else has failed. And some see nothing at all and just wish the tanks would run him over and then back up and do it again. (Those are generally the kind of people that rebels protest against, though.)
It doesn’t even matter what the hell he was protesting against, really. The problematic internal affairs of China have nothing to do with anything in our fat and happy lives. For all I care, this guy could be pissed off about the price of tea. That is not the point. The point is that he stood up for what he believed in, voiced his protest against desperately immense odds, and that he did not give an inch. He was not taking that shit any longer. He didn’t care that the world was watching with bated breath, or that thousands of students were cowering behind flimsy barricades half a mile away. He didn’t do it for fame or fortune – he would have done the same thing if he was the last little China man on Earth. He did it because he honestly believed, from the bottom of his heart, that whatever his issues, they were worth being flattened under the belt of a 5 ton tank for. “Fuck the government – I ain’t fucking moving. You can crush me to a pulp, but at least you know where I stand on this,” he seemed to be saying, with his scrawny figure blocking the path of destruction. He picked his day. His mountain to die on. He stuck his flag in that fucker and did not waver.
Do you feel that strongly about anything? Are you so set in your comfortable little life that your inner spirit of rebellion is thoroughly choked to a faint whisper? Or are we all perhaps capable of carrying through with similar acts of seemingly retarded but awesome courage to make a point, or to take the fall for a greater good, if the shit were ever to hit our own personal fans?
Of course, you don’t have to go to an extreme and drive your little boat in front of oil tankers because you’re not happy with the price of gas. Neither do you need to chain yourself to the snack shelf in your local grocery store because they don’t carry Wise’s Garlic & Onion chips anymore, but do you do anything? Do you feel anything? Do you ever say shit to anybody about anything that pisses you off? Or do you just bite down, suck it up and play the pity violin in the privacy of your heart, and kick the cat when you get home?
It’s good for your spirit to march on that fucking castle, with torches blazing and rattling pitchforks, every once in a while. Sometimes our inner spirit of rebellion needs to come out to play hard ball with the big bad wolves who are out to screw us over, and you are the only person who can let that inner rebel of yours loose.
Like that Tiananmen Square dude. That man is dead today. Probably. He was hauled off by The People’s Liberation Army (who better to quell rebellions of democracy than they?) and put to death in no gentle way, I’m sure. We still don’t know who the hell he was, but the chance is pretty fat that he is as dead as dead gets. It doesn’t matter… we still know what he means. He is the Unknown Rebel. He is the very personification of what we all have inside of us, and what we can drag kicking and screaming out of the closets of our hearts if the situation calls for it.
He is the very Patron Saint of the Dead Rebel Society.
If you have a problem with something, address it. The truth may hurt sometimes - hurt like a motherfucker even - but it doesn’t mean you have to take the easy way out and close your mind to it. You don’t get any medals for being a sheep, and there are no points being stacked up somewhere in your favor just because you’re a good little mouse and never open your mouth to say what’s on your mind. Neither is there necessarily any instant gratification for standing up for yourself. You may not reap the harvest of your act of rebellion until much later, but it will make you feel good. I fucking guarantee it.
Sticking it to the man is the stuff legends are made of, even if in the end we’re all just legends in our own minds. Sometimes letting out that inner rebel will, in some small way, inspire somebody else in a totally unrelated way to act out a rebellion of their own. Thus the torch is passed on. Burn that castle down, kids. Just because it’s there, it doesn’t mean it always has to be.
Remember, this is your life - nobody else is going to live it for you - so you make sure you’re in control of it.
No matter what.