10 June 2015

It’s not over until you clean up!

This is the thirty second in a series of articles on rebels and rebellion written for the FREE section of 'The Nation'. Scroll to the end for other articles in this series.  'FREE' is dedicated to youth and youthfulness.

If you consider yourself a rebel and if you have taken the trouble to study rebellions and revolutions, you would know that these are never pretty.  They often end leaving a trail of misery behind.  The road to victory, rebels are often told by ‘senior rebels’, passes jails, torture chambers and cemeteries.  These are not pretty things.  They are, if you want a term, ‘squalor-things’.  

If you want an idea of how ‘squalorly’ things can get in the course of a rebellion, think of things that are less bloody, less destructive but nevertheless involve a lot of people.  Carnivals, for example.  You could also check out roads after there’s been a political procession.  The Fort Railway Station or Lipton Circus after a demonstration.  An open space where a concert has just been held.  Well, you could also go to the Vihara Maha Devi Park at dusk when the children have finished playing and their parents have taken them home.  

Litter.  That’s what you will find.  

If you go there a couple of days later or perhaps even 24 hours after ‘the party’ is over, you might find little evidence of people having been there.  Yes, there are people who are paid to keep things clean.  Is that excuse enough not to pick up things after your event is done?  

If the answer is ‘yes’ then it means first of all that you are a pretty clumsy kind of rebel.  And irresponsible too.  Even in the unlikely event that you do make your revolution, you will probably have to spend a lot of time and energy making the things that you broke along the way.  That’s inefficiency, our and simple.

What if the answer is ‘no’?  Then you would foresee the inevitable littering and you would plan to deal with post-event squalor.   And if you understand that ‘pick up’ is part of the story, you will rehearse it in all the things you do.  

A rebel doesn’t have it easy.  There are so many elements of the equation that are not in the rebel’s control.  There are many defeats and setback before you start making progress.  Rebellion is an exhausting choice.  But once you’ve made a choice or a choice has been made for you (as it often the case) then you have to deal with it.  

Start with the little things.  Clean up before meetings, clean up afterwards.  Switch off the light that’s not necessary.  Turn off that tap someone left running.  Fix the leaks.   Make sure that you put back things in the proper place after you have used them.  Keep things neat.  In short think of all the things your parents and teachers wanted you to do when you were a kid.  Yes, they were preparing you to be a rebel!  

Other articles in this series