What is a rebel? See, I’ll be honest with you; there’s only one James Dean and he died in 1955. Don’t get me wrong – there are times when breaking the given rule is necessary. (Example: Martin Luther struggling with a faith so seemingly vague and out of reach, and yet, finding the gall to undermine the institutional church in hopes of making such a statement as to bring the “lied to” to Christ… but I digress. That’s another story.)
But what is a rebel without a cause? Take it from someone who has a side of him who enjoys chaos in that late 60s/early 70s way. And take it from someone who had broken almost every rule at Bryan just for the sake of breaking them; but you see, that is just the problem – things tend so much toward chaos in the first place, a good shove from an upstart makes no sense.
Take the student life handbook for instance. I am breaking rules from 1942 just by sitting in Harmony House this morning writing this. Fortunately, the rules have faltered towards the side of common sense since then. Granted, there are rules that make no sense and keeping the law is nigh impossible. That’s not what I’m suggesting – rules will be broken, but in what spirit do we break them?
To quote a famous movie, “some people just want to watch the world burn.” We all, everyone, have that man in us. But we are not called as Christians or humans for that matter to be jokers – to be rebels with no cause in mind or heart. If you sneak out of Long first bathroom window just to live in defiance of curfew, what do you accomplish? I’ll tell you – nothing.
Emerson said, “Go not where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” I believe this can be applied successfully; however, let’s recognize a simple truth here –nonconformists are all the same. When nonconformity becomes the goal of a rebellious act, then you’ve joined the rest of them – conformist. Seriously, who ever said abiding gracefully under authority was giving in? Who said it was conforming?
Are you zealous about making wrong things right? Good – but, zeal without knowledge is like a sword in the hand of a fool. That’s what we hear in scripture. I’ll be the first to say that the church attendance policy is ridiculous or that curfew for 20-year-olds is unnecessary, but for good reason. I encourage you to be vocal about these things. Talk to your RAs, RDs and SGA representatives, but be respectful and be virtuous! Don’t let them see you act the fool for the sake of showing out or making a statement – you’re not James Dean. Your RAs are students – humans – who are there specifically to help you any way they can. They will hold you to the law, but they, like you, are not without fault; so respect them as you would your better friends, embracing patience and avoiding impertinence and contempt. Nobody likes a jerk.
This brief manifesto should not leave you asking, “How do I abide perfectly by all of these rules and regulation.” To be honest, I am not faultless in my dealings with the handbook, but I do live under it by my own choice. The point is this: in what spirit will we keep the law? In what spirit will we break the law? And in what spirit will we live under the law? I wish that I had been a little more kosher in the way I dealt with authority these last few years because all those nights of breaking rules just to break them only ever made me weary.