Raised by Roads

As an adolescent I, like I’m sure many others have, had a desire to rebel. The problem with rebelling is that some social constructs are positive for the overall functioning of society, and the individuals within it – this shall be explored further later on. I know now to rebel against the right things, and not to do so at the expense of myself or for some warped conception of self-martyrdom. Back to my teenage years, I was not at home much partly because of rebelling against the idea that I had too large a family and would fight with my siblings, partly against my inherited poverty, and against everyone and everything about the world: I was yet to realise the potential to change what I did not like. And what I did not like was omni-present: I felt I was conscientious and enlightened from a young age; but these usually positive traits came at a high price – I became disillusioned. There was global poverty, capitalist oppression, post-colonialism and euro-centric liberty, and a host of socio-economic poisons afflicting some of my nearest and dearest. I was overwhelmed by the problems and felt few others would understand. I then fought internal battles through external hedonism: my friends and I would smoke, drink, loiter, and talk politics through a lens of misunderstood hatred and apathy.

This is  where I realised some social constructs are alright: for instance “anti-social hours” are not just the manifestation of elites or cultural hegemony attempting to oppress freedom, they exemplify an attempt to mitigate many diverse members of society’s interests and discourage criminal activity or addiction. This is not to say that one should never be out at 4am after partying with friends, but it is to highlight that it should not become a regular habit and one should take care with what activities and what crowd one keeps at said hours. Through my nexus of nights I saw cocaine dealers, fights, shouting, drinking and violence: the people of the night were  fighting demons too but their demons would frequently get the better of them. This can establish dissatisfaction with their realities in the day-to-day afternoon hours, I believe one must be satisfied and strike a balance to both prevent excessive hedonism and ensure functionality and contribution to society. Moreover, there is arguably a large case for societal change and progress or transformative agendas from the rebels, misfits, and nighttime wanderers. Especially for younger people who find themselves bored and turning to vices perhaps too often, there should be youth clubs, parks, and other extracurricular hangouts, hobbies and places to socialise in order to keep people busy and in the right places and hours when they do want to enjoy themselves.

Then there comes the conventional, almost cliche, rebellion: against one’s parents. Despite this age-old conflict, mine manifested slightly negatively and as afore-mentioned I would go out to avoid them. In hindsight, parents have valuable lessons. Now to clarify, I still partially stand by some of my afflicted conclusions: age does not determine wisdom or authority, and personal freedom and autonomy is a priority for one to know oneself and truly exhibit and explore your human nature and creative or eccentric potential. Moreover, authority is precarious, and should be sensitive to its subjects, as well as earned by them through mutual respect and logical reasons for the wielding of said authority, it should also never be abused as coercive or excessive, and has the potential to be slowly eroded once the individual or group are mature enough to think for themselves. This requires sound understanding, and demonstration of efficiency at, handling of responsibility. However, on a logical basis, age (especially in the case of parents) means they are statistically more probable to have experienced life events; these events contribute to a useful world view that one should respect at the very least. Disagreement is natural and permissible, and parents should empathize and relate to, whilst communicating reasonably and understandingly, with their children to highlight the practical application of their ‘lectures/nagging’ (sorry mum, lol). This raises key issues of responsibility. One must take responsibility for one’s actions: this goes for both child and parent: parents in particular should not use their older position to justify wrong doing or dogmatic preaching. Negotiation or compromise is crucial, as in any relationship, to ensure fairness on both sides and the most conducive environment for happiness, learning, mutual benefits and peace. Furthermore parents have been, and continually are, surviving and participating in adult civil society hence they have a wealth and breadth of knowledge on social interactions that can help you with etiquette and act as a foundation for relationships, then your own ideas and freedom can build of of this base. Interestingly, this also highlights some of my thoughts on politics and philosophy which is that people are predominantly nurtured, not pre-existing entities by nature or genetical roulette, and interestingly one’s supposed nature could be questioned too because people for many reasons can spend more or less time with their parents for a host of issues. Not just due to (my case of ) rebellion, but due to boarding schools and other living arrangements there can be a host of external influences shaping and nurturing a person. This therefore places high value and optimism for progress in international institutions, media and role models, and education. But that’s a debate for another time.

The takehomes from this blog piece are: love and respect your parents, tolerate and question social norms where appropriate, be civil and don’t rebel irrationally, once you acknowledge a problem do not be defeated by it instead incorporate a paradigm shift of “ok I know what’s wrong with the world I shall now be proactive, productive, patient and optimistic to seek the change that will benefit society and humanity”. This too shall be discussed another time 😉

Thanks for reading 🙂

..R.C

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