I have never been a rebel. In fact, had there been a “Least likely to rebel against the powers that be” award in high school or even a “Most likely to rebuke those who rebel against the powers that be” award, I probably would have won them. I am not particularly proud of having appeared that way to the student body – I probably should have gone out on limbs and risked my dignity a little more often – but it still wouldn’t have changed how I feel about school rules and other forms of chaos prevention (i.e. the law). However, following rules has never stopped me from standing staunchly behind my contrary views of the world. If there is one important thing that people should know about my opinionated nature, it’s that I try never to speak (or in this case write) in ignorance. If I have no clue what is going on, and you ask me for my opinion, I will say I have no clue. However, if I have given some thought to the subject, and you think I have gone out of my mind, you had better watch out for the steamroller, because I ain’t backin’ down. That said, I am very open-minded when it comes to others’ perspectives. Just because I stand firmly behind my own beliefs doesn’t mean I can’t accept that there are many other possible interpretations of things. Still, some people are just plain wrong.
I had to write a paper for school recently, explaining my thoughts on an online essay about what it takes to be great. I fumbled around with my thoughts for a long time before starting because the essay had left me completely baffled. The sentences as they added on to one another just compounded into one giant force of ignorance and childishness. I considered giving a normal expected response on the essay about it’s “helpful guidelines” and “keen interpretation of life’s unfortunate truths,” but I couldn’t bear to stamp my name on such ridiculous lies. Instead, I wrote everything I felt in such a sincere fashion that the teacher could not have concluded I was mocking either him or the essay. While I probably would have made the ending a little less harsh and re-worded some of my sentences better, this is the exact form that the last paragraph took:
“While I agree the intention was noble, and the essay is well-written, I unfortunately got nothing out of it other than an obligation to come up with my own definition of greatness. Unlike the author, I would not simply include those who are ridiculously wealthy, even most philanthropists, because I think success cannot be translated into a currency. Furthermore, even if we follow the ideas presented, there are many hugely successful people who stumble into “greatness” and wealth with a single feat or discovery regardless of both hard work and talent. People find wealth different ways. People find success in their own personal ways. People find greatness when others label them as great. This article means little to me as a result.”
You may now be thinking I’m a hypocrite, that this is its own form of rebelling. Maybe you’re right. Or maybe, just maybe, the ones rebelling are those who recognize the essay as trash and choose not to write about it truthfully. Maybe the teachers who tell us they want us to learn to express ourselves as individuals but teach us to conform into thought patterns like them are the rebels, the hypocrites. And regardless of whether or not any of this even makes any sense at all, this is what The Fourth Side is all about.