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Rebel's Lament: Dancing with Shadows in the Era of Conformity
A deep-dive into the soul's rebellion against the chains of the unquestionable norm
Being a rebel in 2023 means killing your career.
My rebellious heart often got me into trouble even before the unquestionable New Normal doctrine.
What about you?
Being a rebel means sailing straight into the calm water of conformism, creating waves of resistance with people that found peace in the status quo.
That follow orders and click heals.
Most folks don’t want their dogma being questioned. Questioning the narrative in 2023 gets you exiled from the ingroup. But hey, isn’t that what being a rebel is all about?
There is more.
Sure, at the deep root of rebellious action lies exile from the tribe. Willingly or subconsciously. Voluntarily or forced. By taking distance, one can only look at family, clan or country's culture and values from a new perspective and bring a new vision. A new story.
Here is a mini-essay on what it means to choose the path of the rebel, my comparison with being a 21st-century shaman, and my personal journey of rebellion. I look at the challenges for today’s rebels, outcasts and misfits. And not to forget the growing army of cancelled scientists, doctors and other former respectable members of society that are suddenly labelled terrorists. Are they rebels too?
This is the raw tale of a rebel's exile from the tribe, driven by an unyielding quest for authenticity. Journey alongside the wounded healers as they challenge the suffocating embrace of conformity, echoing a defiant call for truth
A story of the courageous individual versus the insanity of the mob.
What is a rebel?
Did you ever identify with being a rebel? What does it mean to be a rebel for you?
Today, being a rebel is being a bad person, endangering the crowd. It’s safety, health and, most of all, the leading ideology of the day. You better follow suit.
In most of history, the rebel becomes the hero. A mythical person that saved the village by turning his back on the bad king or other representation of corrupt authority. Think of Spartacus, Robin Hood, Gandhi or Martin Luther King JR. Rosa Parks refused to do the right thing, ergo to give her place to a white person on a bus. She sparked a complete liberation movement in the U.S.
Some famous historic rebels paid a high price for opposing authority; their lives. They became martyrs, and their spirit of freedom lived on for ages after them. Think of Joan of Arc, The King, William Wallace or Sitting Bull.
I like to give some more depth to the rebel archetype. I’ve been a rebel for most of my life, a destiny rooted in psychological events. On a psycho-social level, I like to see the rebel as a Shaman. I’ll explain why using a threefold sequence that helped me understand the main transitions in my life.
It can do the same for you when you identify with the rebel archetype.
The three stages of the Rites of Passage
A rebellious journey can be compared to the quest of the Shaman. The clan's healer restores balance on a meta-level. For this, he or she must undergo the necessary initiations to celebrate an individual’s transition from one status to another within a given society. This defines the Shaman’s journey in Van Gennep’s Anthropological Groundwork: The Rites of Passage. He found a tripartite sequence in ritual observance: separation, transition, and incorporation.
My first phase, separation, happened very early, at birth. This traumatic experience shaped my psychological blueprint and sentenced me to a mental disability — a lack of healthy neural connections depleting me of a sense of love and safety, leading to addiction to self-medicate and being able to feel human.
This early separation set the psychological conditions to become a rebel later in life. It was not only the separation from the womb into the world but also the absolute separation from my mother, the first and foremost safety bouy that was swept away from me at such an early stage. I’ve been an orphan for the first three months of my life. Luckily, amazing parents adopted me, and I had the best upbringing.
The second transitory phase started at age 18 and meant visiting my underworld. It became my dark night of the soul, meaning owning back again and transforming the vacant space occupied by entities due to my deep trauma. A hero's journey that required bravery and finally took five years of my life. I don’t want to pat myself on the back too much here. The journey was forced due to a profound identity crisis. Only later, I realized the resemblance of the shaman’s journey into the underworld to recapture the soul of the sick clan member.
Now it was my soul that I needed to rescue first.
These experiences familiarised me with the tripartite separation, transition and incorporation sequence. I only very recently entered the third stage of incorporation by returning to my father’s country, the Netherlands. It feels like the hero returning to the village. In my case, the theme of the lost son returning to his ‘ family’.
The new challenge I face now, and millions with me, is the deteriorating state I find my ‘society’ is in that I am returning to. It’s like coming back into the village that looks great initially, but the people are hiding, scared, in their dwellings. They’re condemning everybody who is ‘different’, shaming them on digital marketplaces while today’s moral judges, big corporations, throw them into our modern dungeons — digital isolation.
I will discuss how to deal with these challenges.
The challenges the rebel must face
The rebel’s journey has been of all times. You need to go on a quest to find your answers to the question of what it means to be human. For this, you’ll need to leave the group, separate from the clan, from safety, from the norm, from your family, and consensus reality.
You’re on your own as a rebel. This is the first transition of separation.
Maybe Jesus has been our first rebel in the Western world. Look at the price he paid for healing the divide and being a fantastic shaman.
Like Jesus, the true rebel can’t play small. Forget hiding behind group consensus or coercing to the accepted ‘right’ way to live. As a rebel, the thing you dislike most is compromise. You rather die than sacrifice your truth.
Being a rebel is the ultimate search for truth without being afraid of the consequences
The sacrifice of being a rebel
At first glance, it's no fun being a rebel. It can look like a humungous, almost non-human task, depending on what time you are alive.
The pain of transition beholds the realization for the Rebel that he can’t be like those others in their houses with their perfect gardens. She can’t simply do the right thing that everybody does and applauds. He can’t blindly obey the invisible solid field of unspoken thoughts: The Holy Norm.
I always maintained a love-hate relationship with being a rebel. All my life, I’ve felt the waves of intense pain of being the outcast. Often enough, I’ve exiled myself from any group and found myself alone, asking why I was so different and didn’t fit in. Deep inside, I always knew that my reward for the sacrifice was inner and often outer freedom.
This great divide became a prominent theme in my life. I was playing out my initial trauma times and times again. I left the safe womb of my mother’s country and lived with Australian Aborigines to be culturally as far away as possible. I visited the Yanomami Indians in the deep Amazon in Venezuela. I lived in Spain for 12 years.
Recently, my shaman’s healing journey came to fruition by returning to my father's country.
Why society needs rebels
From the perspective of the tribe, society or whatever you call the ingroup structure that makes a country ‘function’ within its borders, there is also a love-hate relationship with rebels.
When you lived through the eighties, you might remember the early stages of techno-optimism, when Steve Job’s Apple idealized the misfits, the rebels, to the ones that think differently. A new wave of individualism was monetized by the first tech pioneers that evoked the masses to ‘Think Differently’. It was shortly after the rise of Punk, The sex pistols, the new wave, anti-nuclear bomb protests and the birth of the new-age industry. It became hip to protest. Standing out and being different became the norm. It was a great, almost careless time to be alive and grow up as a student.
A certain standard of wealth is required for individual expression to be accepted and even stimulated in any society. This era showed that in some periods of the development of our Western society, we needed rebels, outcasts and modern shamans. To innovate, create, heal the divides, and build on a past generation of post-war collective reconstructions.
Capitalism successfully sold the dream of standing out as an individual in a free marketplace where great ideas X hard work could turn you into a rich, successful man. The beginning of global capitalism in that era promoted the rebel archetype, as Apple’s successful campaign showed.
How things have changed since then. Half of Western Society that can afford it has an Apple phone, laptop or IPad, the free marketplace has vanished, and almost nobody dares to stand out.
The Insanity of the mob
We arrived at a crucial point in history where things are 180 degrees turned around compared to the ‘free’ eighties.
In 2023, the returning Rebel and healed shaman finds himself in a totalitarian village. A cult-like scene where individual expression, or even so much as Apple’s Think Differently, is not rewarded but punished.
Apple’s 2023 version of their famous slogan could be: Be the same.
The equivalent of Flatten the curve, or Think of your Grandma first. Do everything but forget about yourself and your civil rights. Any dissent or even as much as critical thought is violently silenced or silently muted by the Thought Police, the very thing big tech has become. Big Money, Politics and bureaucracy are shamelessly going for total control, cheered by the continuous outrage of the crowd that is mind controlled to silence the enemy.
The insanity of the mob is best characterized by people mindlessly following the sociopaths stealing their money and freedoms in plain sight while cancelling the handful of rebels left that fight for their rights.
It leads too far to examine here the roots of these social movements. Some essential elements are the rise of the 4th industrial revolution with its data & attention economy and the end phase of capitalism since we can’t have infinite growth on a planet with finite resources. We need transformation and system change.
The question is how. One thing is sure — we need rebels for this shift.
Humanities dark night of the soul
Today’s societal meta-crisis, a time of global Gleichschaltung, culture wars and mass identity crises, reminds me of my journey of experiencing the big divide. The black void of my identity crisis scared the shit out of me, but this fear became the torch when I descended into my deep dark night of the soul.
Eventually, fear leads you to your pain.
When looking at Van Genneps three phases, it feels like humanity has undergone a massive separation (phase 1) from nature and our source. The leading causes are our Mechanic worldview — the materialistic one-sided approach to reality that turned science into a dangerous religious extremist movement.
Through these patriarchal, left brain only developments, we seem to head towards a globally connected and controlled technocratic configuration.
Humanity is undergoing its global deep dark night of the soul.
Covid showed us we are facing our deepest shadows as a collective. This is still ongoing when we look at the modern digital witch hunts on Nobel price winners that speak out or even Presidents that appear too populist.
Welcome to Woke Nation.
The really awake citizen can observe self-righteousness in-group dynamics that stand above discourse, above law, and above self-reflection. We’re in the era of following orders or being crushed and cancelled by the same tech companies that have become more powerful than nation-states.
What is the rebel's role in this disruption and radical transformation timeframe?
Being a rebel in 2023 — coming back to the village
I would argue that the present-day rebel’s most crucial role is the same as ever. To find your inner truth and express it. To strive for balance. To stirr the status quo. To oppose authority and be disobedient.
It's easy to be a rebel in 2023 since simply speaking your truth is automatically a rebellious action. As we’ve seen before, it’s also dangerous since you’re suddenly a terrorist.
I’ve been censored multiple times on Medium with some pieces about crypto. Still, it’s the rebel’s journey to bridge the divide, heal society's deep wounds, and stand out bravely. And being completely crushed, his or her professional life destroyed, hit in the balls, played on the man, and sentenced to digital isolation.
Yes, the digital layers of control are a new challenge to the 21st-century rebel. Happily, some actual heroes and rebels keep challenging the Moloch or A.I-driven social media prison of normative slavery. People like JC Hopkins, Robert Kennedy Junior and platforms like Off Guardian.
In today’s insanity, the rebels seem all we’ve got to make the transition and to stay sane.
Be a rebel—embrace your pain and be authentic.
I come back to the psychological side of being a rebel. Only souls tormented by life and scattered by trauma can apply for rebel-hood.
Collective trauma healing starts with individual trauma healing.
That’s what I’ve been doing for the past 25 years. The more healed I become, the less I suffer from fear. Also, the less I feel separated from the system—the less need to play the role of the rebel. The more whole I feel inside, the more the world outside of me changes into wholeness because I can hold her with that new loving consciousness. I stop projecting my inner division on her since that division is slowly ceasing to exist.
This calls for a new insight into rebellious action.
In the past, it has often been related to fighting against — to rage against the machine.
In this new paradigm world, it's about embracing everything while expressing healthy borders. It seems just more helpful to incorporate your wisdom derived from life lessons and pain transformed into healing. To return to the village and help build better homes, help develop a new decentralized peer-to-peer way of life, and help others to embrace the truths that reside right there in their hearts.
I recently moved back to the Netherlands. It's my third phase of Van Gennep, the incorporation of my wisdom, my love and self-knowledge.
This allows me to embrace the system I once revolted against in a rebellious act of finding freedom. The significant spiritual transformation of embracing my pain happened while living in Ibiza. It has been the period in my life of the shaman's journey into the hedonist underworld to fight my deepest shadows and transform them. To heal my deepest wounds.
Now I’m back in the village. To bridge the divide with the wisdom, compassion and open heart, I accumulated by embracing my pain. By becoming the wounded healer. The present-day great divide in current society can’t get much bigger. I hold space for the collective craziness, even the lies. I try to keep on speaking my truth. To take part in sanity projects like the one Charles Eisenstein organizes online.
Be an island of sanity in a sea of toxic cultural waste
In my experience, the most influential act of rebellion in this age of fake cultism is facing your shadows and healing your deeper wounds. Bridge your inner wounds, your inner divide first. The real secret I have found as an answer to how to be a rebel in 2023 is to become a rebel of love.
Be the baken of truth that you feel and are, and influence the collective in unseen ways, from within.
From being a-part to being part.