(Prague, Czech Republic—March 11, 2003)
There are two phases in the process of living as a rebel who rejects conventional values and the conventional world. The first phase is the rejection of that world and the critique of it; this phase is a necessary negative part of the cycle: the negative critique. The second phase of the process is to create an alternative set of values that seem better than those values rejected; this is the positive part of the cycle: the positive action.
It is necessary for a rebel to complete both parts of the cycle if he is to satisfy his project while maintaining a dynamic balance with the world.
Many get stuck (paralyzed) in the first phase of the cycle and live in a chronic state of negativity. They become progressively more angry and cynical with time; they become self-destructive, or simply destructive. This is not surprising, for the negative part of the cycle is easier than the positive part.
I call the rebel who has the courage to attempt the whole cycle a “fulfilled rebel,” meaning he lives with both a negative critique of the world and a positive agenda for himself in the world, a state of “positive protest.”
Yet many remain stuck in the negative phase. Their anger at the hypocrisy of conventional values, their rejection of the world as it is… well, they have formed their basic critique. It is a sincere and honest critique, yet still only half the process.
They must make a choice: to persist in the way of self-destruction, which requires no further effort, or to embrace the second phase and take positive action in their lives. That will require them to not just reject the world, but to engage it, to step into the world and act.