Where are the Rebels?

By DTD Gallagher

I sat today and wondered, where are the Rebels? Do they still exist? Does it even matter?

As I grow older, I feel further removed from society's youth and pop culture, from what is cool and what is not. I wonder, with so many changes in technology, will we feel further and further from those who come after us. I was never involved in the trend of the day, week or month. I never dyed my hair or wore something that made someone stop and gasp. However, it was always reassuring to know what it was, who the Rebels where, what they wore, and what they stood for. It felt good, that I could tell anyone what the trend of the day was, and what it meant. I knew who the Rebels were, what they stood for and whether I agreed with them or not. But I wonder where the Rebels are now?

This current generation may have better technology, be more health conscious, care more about the environment, and share their thoughts daily, but it doesn't stop me from wondering where are its Rebels are. I don't see motorbikes riding into the distance, that make you stand and take notice. I don't see a leader that shouts loud enough to make people raise their eyes from their screen and stop their fingers from moving. The leather jackets are gone, buried in a cupboard or lost, never to be found again, and the people who wore them have all vanished…or have they? The flags have been retired, and the hats discoloured, never to be seen or worn again. Items that once sat proud on someone's shoulder or waved so high that even the most powerful men in the country took notice, have disappeared into obscurity. Who will be the Rebel that this generation needs, the person who raises their head so high that people take notice?

Then, I realise what is clear, what I should have realised from the start: Rebels are everywhere! They don't need to be in the present to make a difference. They don't need to be by your side, or on the front page of the newspaper, or a headline on a push notification. They don't need to be your age, your colour or your gender, and they don't even need to be from this planet. The term Rebel shouldn't be defined or pigeonholed because it means something different to all of us. It could be a flag of many colours, a hat worn by a rock star, a sword from a story set in the past or future, or a time that may have never existed, a dress that stops time, a t-shirt worn in defiance or a cape worn by someone from a different planet. The item isn’t important, it’s the message that resonates with you.

We all love to share our stories. We freely document those who have inspired us, and showcase them to the world, in whatever medium existed at that time. Now, is a time where recognition for Rebels of the past can be seen by everyone. Stories from the past teach us that they can take away someone's right to see the sun and feel it on their skin but you cannot take away someone's love of the sun and the memory of the way it feels. A speech written 55 years ago can still mean as much to someone on a small screen on a busy train, as it can to someone who was in the front row on the day it was said. The speech that was relevant then, can be just as relevant now, maybe even more relevant. A group of people marching for a cause whether it be now or in the past can challenge convention and change someone's expectation. They can inspire people of any generation, and future generations.

A speech, a movie, a flag or an item of clothing, a man, a woman, a child or an alien it doesn't matter, who or what inspires you. What does matter, is what it means to the individual, and how it makes you feel. Today it may be easier than ever to find someone or something to inspire you, the world is the smallest it has ever been. Millions of words are being shared every minute, spoken or written, on paper, a screen, headphones or loud speaker, we all should listen because you never know where your next idea, inspiration or act of Rebellion will come from.

So where are the Rebels? Do they still exist? Does it even matter? The Rebels are far and wide, here and there, in your ears, on your screen, and when it matters most they can be found. They still exist. It will always matter, and what is important is that they are here to stay...gu bràth reubaltaich (forever a Rebel).

personal rebellion, solidarity, identity