Viva la Revolución!
Downtrodden people the world over will eventually rise up and rebel against their oppressors. It is in the nature of people to be free. The chains they are bound with will be shaken off, the loads they are burdened with will be thrown to the ground. The more you squeeze, the more people slip through your grasp.
History supports this – look at the humble beginnings of the United States: a group best described as “ragtag” grew weary of the demands placed on them by a distant and out-of-touch government, and after a long and bloody revolution they won their freedom and a chance to govern themselves.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every revolution was first a thought in one man’s mind.” A mixture of youth, energy, and belief are needed to set the wheels of revolution in motion.
High school students, I think, are a microcosm of a nation on the verge of revolution. There are different factions vying for power, with different groups coming into “power” at different times. The factions unite, however, in the face of a greater threat. There is an Arab proverb that states, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Abbie Hoffman said that “the first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it,” and maybe that’s why high school students generally attempt small things in their struggle to overthrow those in power. While it’s true we sometimes hear about something big and drastic happening at a school, for every story you see on the news, a thousand rebellions have been quashed, nipped in the very smallest beginning buds of their existence.
The current battle at my high school is being fought on an electronic field. The repressive powers that be have mandated a specific background image be displayed on all computers regardless of race, creed, color, or location. The logo displayed serves as a reminder to all who view it that they cannot escape the all-seeing eye of what the tyrants in power call a “mascot.” Personal desires are ignored and all must conform. There are controls in place to ensure conformity, from disabling the ability to change the background to logging use of specific computers.
Still, the revolutionaries persist in their guerilla warfare. Tactics are varied and shifting, like water rushing against barriers, finding the weakest path and bringing cracks to light and enlarging them. Random pictures show up from time to time in different places throughout the building. Timing and placement would suggest that what started as an act of a single agitator has become a growing movement of dissidents.
In this particular struggle, I find myself on a different side than I might have been fifteen years ago. The fires of my youth have been spent on struggles of my own and I have learned that what George Bernard Shaw said ends up being true: “Revolutions have never lightened the burden of tyranny: they have only shifted it to another shoulder.” Now my energies are put towards maintaining the rule of law, ferreting out those who would subvert it. Conformity, in this instance, should reveal to the patient what the true struggles in life are.
Above all, I would like the current crop of revolutionaries to remember this quote by Huey P. Newton: “The first lesson a revolutionary must learn is that he is a doomed man. Unless he understands this, he does not grasp the essential meaning of his life.” While his death (or cancellation of his Internet or network privileges) might eventually serve some greater cause, he might never live to see the benefits of his actions.
Who knows, though, what echoes shall reverberate from his actions here today?