The Missing Spirit of Rebellion in Personal Development

I may ruffle some feathers here, and that's a risk I'm prepared to take.

It's one thing to talk about love and light, higher consciousness, and connection with all of existence. It's another thing to truly accept the world and ourselves as we are, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. Compassion, generosity, acceptance, and gratefulness are certainly noble virtues – if we can manage them. But there's more to self-mastery than putting on the white cloak of Love and Light.

I would like to play devil's advocate with this post. A rebel spirit also has a place in true self-mastery—an important one.

If we are always content to conform and to wear the mask and play the game exactly the way society wants us to play, then our authenticity has to suffer. There's no real heart in it.

If we are always polite, politically correct, and perfectly “good” in everyone's eyes, we can't be real human beings. The more we try to force ourselves into the mold of the accepted “good,” the more something rotten takes root under the surface.

Real wholesome goodness comes from a place much deeper than the rules of conduct dictated by church or society—or online gurus, for that matter.

To find our own authentic truth, we must rebel against the version of the truth that was spoon-fed to us while growing up. We have to challenge it and test it all the way through. This is something I was blessed to discover at an early age.

My Rebel Role Model

I grew up during the height of apartheid in South Africa.

As a young kid, I struggled to understand that there was a difference between black and white people besides their superficial skin tone. The nation of my birth was bent on teaching me to hate based on color and culture. I went to school and received a heavily filtered version of the facts. I watched television programs and news headlines guided by the propaganda of a government that planted false, racist, and patriarchal ideals into the young minds of all free children.

My father saved me from that brainwashing. He is a gifted photographer and an African vagabond. He calls himself a visual thug, a hunter of diesel and dust. He traveled from Cape to Cairo in a year when I was still young. I met him in Cairo at the end of his adventures, and I asked him, "So, dad, how was it?”

He looked at me through those electrifying eyes of his and said something to me that made a lasting impression:

"Well, boy, when traveling through Africa, your best friend is a sense of humor…."

I will never forget the way he said that. I felt he had tapped into the essence of life on that pictorial journey through Africa. I later began to think that perhaps my soul had chosen him as a father just so I could receive that insight when I did because that is precisely what mastering the art of perception means.

Receiving that knowledge as a young boy made me question everything I learned at school. It made me question what the preacher told me when I was forced to attend school chapel. I was not going to accept that template without a fight, and I could laugh about the whole drama too.

My father was my rebel role model. I remember how he used to make my brother, and I get into our old VW Microbus, and we would go for a ride in the neighborhood. We would drive past the local police station.

Now, you might well imagine the mindset of the conservative apartheid-era police force. At the time, South Africa was waging an insane war on its northern borders. People were afraid, angry, and misguided. The news on television fed us soft lies and placebos.

As we cruised slowly past the station, my dad would make us open the door and scream, "1-2-3-4 WE DON’T WANT THIS F@*KING WAR!”

My brother and I would laugh our heads off, and soon enough, we would inevitably plead: “let's do it again, dad! Come on!” Then he would turn around and drive past again. We would repeat the exact words, shouting gleefully and unashamed at the confused and bewildered police officers outside the station.

Little did we know that my father was an activist against the white government. Our protest was nonviolent, and perhaps it did nothing at all to change the situation in the country, but it made a world of difference to me.


Removing the Blinkers–A Shift in Perspective

Still, during the height of apartheid, at the tender age of nine, my parents sent me into a township, which is what we called a rural black community. They allowed me to sleep over at our domestic worker's modest tin shack home. To provide some perspective here, this kind of thing was simply not done during those years. It was shocking and unheard of at the time. A nice, decent white kid sleeping over in a black township? Impossible! Illegal, unwise, and immoral!

The local community was likewise shocked to see a white kid in their neighborhood, though they were far more accepting of the idea. The young children seemed amazed by my presence as they hadn't seen a white kid on those streets before. I remember it so clearly. They only wanted to race me down the street to see how fast I could run. I remember running hundred-meter sprints barefoot on gravel roads, competing against the local kids. They would touch my skin, perhaps wondering if they could rub the whiteness off and show everyone that I was really black underneath.

That experience made an indelible mark on my body-mind and my soul. It made me question how our respected government could make us feel so indifferent to the suffering of others. Clearly, the system was broken. “Respectable" people told lies.

Standing on those gravel streets, I realized clearly that I had been living in a fake world. I had been manipulated, but I couldn't yet understand why. Here was the living, laughing truth in black and white.

Perhaps that was the planting of a seed. I was filled with contradicting emotions and strong feelings that were impossible to explain or reconcile. I sensed something was not right, but I could not say what it was. There was my natural sense of wonder, fun, and comradery. I could sense that I was somehow breaking an unspoken rule, but I didn't know how or why. The blinkers were removed from my eyes, and my perspective shifted in a deep, gut-level way. It was no textbook theory. It was life, raw and simple.

It's one thing to preach, to tell a child, or an adult, that all beings are one and that each human is worthy of love and respect, but it is another thing to show this to a child directly. I thank my parents from the heart for allowing me this experience.

The events of that day made me feel, deep down in my bones, that we are all equal, regardless of our exterior coating. It made me hungry to search. That experience made me eager to strip away the lies and discover my authentic truth.

It never would have happened without a healthy dose of the rebel spirit. It was a healthy sprinkling of the bad mixed with the ultimate good.

I am not suggesting that people rebel for the sake of rebellion. To uncover the truth, you must be courageous and unflinching and find a truth that goes beyond theory, one that you can live, body and soul.

This was my journey of truth and one of the reasons why I want to share my message. Like me, I hope you are searching for something real, something unbreakable, and something true. Something other than what we have been programmed to believe. I hope that your own rebel spirit is alive and well! It will serve you well on your journey to your inner essence.