Why YOU Need To Rebel

Are you a rebel? I am. No I’m not, I just said that so you’d think I’m cool. Society portrays rebellion as recklessness. Most of us accept it as fact that breaking any rules or opposing authorities is bad. The rest of us do it on purpose because it’s fun. Why else do people talk about politics on Facebook? To throw gasoline onto a simmering campfire, cackling maniacally.

OK, listen, I’m not trying to encourage anarchy here. Following the law is the only thing stopping us from running through the streets naked wearing lampshades on our heads. (Because we would definitely all be doing that if it wasn’t illegal — am I right?) But rebellion doesn’t have to be destructive. It can be positive. Better — progressive.

Here’s the kind of motivation I want you to walk away with after reading this: the drive to challenge something. Slave ownership used to be legal. Homosexuality used to be illegal. By the time women could vote, there were still limits to what we were allowed to participate in. Surprise, surprise, not all laws are designed to keep order but rather to repress certain groups.

Women weren’t allowed to compete in the Boston Marathon until 1972. But the actions of marathon runner Katherine Switzer helped to change that. She didn’t state her name, instead using more ambiguous initials instead. But when the press realised she was running, an official ran out to try and chase her back into the kitchen. They might have succeeded if that was where the finish line was.

Ms Switzer wasn’t the only woman to run the marathon that day, but she was the only one officially registered. The director of the Boston Athletic Association later said: “Women can’t run in the marathon because the rules forbid it. Unless we have rules, society will be in chaos.” Oh, yes. Women running a marathon is apocalypse-inducing stuff. Funnily enough, the rule that women couldn’t run didn’t actually exist.

But your rebellion doesn’t have to make ripples across the globe. My proudest moment as a 13 year old (oh yes, good old teenage rebellion) was walking out with the rest of my class on a dictatorial music teacher. The last straw was a fellow student being sent to the office for taking off his jumper. We struggled to all fit in to the office of our Head of Year and explain ourselves that day. Not long afterwards, she was fired and not one of us received a detention. Viva la revolution!

Here’s the point: some laws exist for no good reason and some don’t exist at all, only in the minds of people who wished they existed and enforce them anyway. Your rebellion is needed. To right some wrongs that are born from tradition or prejudice. To fight for the rights of someone who is endlessly denied them. To give just one person a different perspective that might make their lives more peaceful — hatred is pretty exhausting.

So whilst I’m not encouraging you to pop out to your local Tesco and start looting, find something to rebel against. Fighting the good fight for a worthy cause gives us purpose and strength. Better yet, you will be making all the difference in the world to someone else. And don’t you dare lie to me and say it doesn’t feel good to give an unjust system the big middle finger.


Dempsey, James (2017), Half a century after first race, Kathrine Switzer finishes Boston Marathon again, Available: http://www.newstalk.com/Half-a-century-after-first-race-Kathrine-Switzer-finishes-Boston-Marathon-again

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