14 October 2015

Think of roots and wings

This is the fiftieth 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.

In the end, whether we like it or not, all rebellions have to involve to a greater or lesser degree the people of a country.  Well, even if it’s an office-rebellion, you have to deal with staff, those who are on your side and those who are not.  

Now there will be people on your side and there will be others who are not.  Just because they are on one side or the other it does not mean that those in the same group are alike.  They may identify with the cause and that makes for similarity, true, but in political engagement that’s just one factor.  

For example, commitment to cause may vary.  There are always degrees to risk-aversion.  Not everyone is equally skilled or experienced or willing to learn.  Trust also comes in degrees.  

You have to assess these things among your followers, leaders and comrades.  Most times you can make an educated guess about such things.  Most qualities are clearly visible and therefore easily assessed, after all.  But there is something in the ‘deep down’ that is less visible and yet probably key in crisis situations.  Two things in fact.  One is roots and the other is wings.  

We grow up in different social settings.  We acquire different values.  We privilege certain aspirations and appreciate different ways of being.  But whether we like it or not, whether we are conscious of these things or not, our entire upbringing is about roots and wings.  

This is essentially what parents, teachers, peers and social circumstances inscribe on us.  We all get rooted to something or rather a lot of things which together make a single soil.  That’s what nourishes us and from which we draw logic to understand and respond to situations.  Different roots, yes.  Different soils, yes.  But we all have roots and they are all located in particular soils.  

Wings too.  From the day we are born our parents, elders, teachers and friends are determined to see us succeed.  They want us to go far. They want us to fly.  And so they stitch feathers to our bodies, metaphorically speaking. They fix wings to our sides.  And whether these stick or not, one thing remains: the desire to fly.  

So, Dear Rebel, when you assess leaders, followers and comrades (and those in the enemy camp too), don’t forget to factor in roots and wings.  It helps when you predict behavior.  You get a better and more nuanced sense of what to expect and as importantly what you should not expect.  

Roots and wings.  Remember.

Other articles in this series
Crawl into the enemy's brain
The sun will never set
When the enemy expands consider inflation
When you are the last one standing
Targets visible and targets unidentified
When you have to vote
So when are you planning to graduate?
The belly of the beast is addictive
When you meet pomposity, flip the script
When did you last speak with an old man?
Dear Rebel, please keep it short
Get ready for those setbacks
The rebel must calculate or perish
Are you ready to deceive?
Dear Rebel, 'P' is also for 'Proportion' 
Dear Rebel, have you got the e-factor out of the way?
Have you carefully considered the f-word?
It is so easy to name the enemy, right?
The p-word cuts both ways
Cards get reflected in eyes, did you know?
It's all about timing 
Heroes and heroism are great, but...
Recruiting for a rebellion
The R, L and H of 'Rebellion'
Pack in 'Humor' when you gather rebellion-essentials
When the enemy is your best friend
The MSM Principle of Engagement
Dear Rebel, get some creature-tips!
Dear Rebel, get through your universities first
Read the enemies' Bibles
Poetry, love and revolution
Are you ready to shut down your petrol shed
The details, the details!
Know your comrades
Good to meditate on impermanence.
Time is long, really long
Learn from the termites 
Be warned: the first victory is also the first defeat
Prediction is asking for trouble
Visualize, strategize and innovate
How important is authority?
Don't forget to say 'Hello!'
It's not over until you clean up!
Have you met 'PB' of Alutwela?
Are you sure about those selfies?
Power and principles
'Few does not mean 'weak'