In the end, whether we like it or not, all rebellions have to involve, to a greater or lesser degree, the people of a country. Well, even if it’s an office-rebellion, you have to deal with staff, those who are on your side and those who are not.
Now there will be people on your side and there will be others who are not. Just because they are on one side or the other it does not mean that those in the same group are alike. They may identify with the cause and that makes for similarity, true, but in political engagement that’s just one factor.
For example, commitment to cause may vary. There are always degrees to risk-aversion. Not everyone is equally skilled or experienced or willing to learn. Trust also comes in degrees.
You have to assess these things among your followers, leaders and comrades. Most times you can make an educated guess about such things. Most qualities are clearly visible and therefore easily assessed, after all. But there is something in the ‘deep down’ that is less visible and yet probably key in crisis situations. Two things in fact. One is roots and the other is wings.
We grow up in different social settings. We acquire different values. We privilege certain aspirations and appreciate different ways of being. But whether we like it or not, whether we are conscious of these things or not, our entire upbringing is about roots and wings.
This is essentially what parents, teachers, peers and social circumstances inscribe on us. We all get rooted to something or rather a lot of things which together make a single soil. That’s what nourishes us and from which we draw logic to understand and respond to situations. Different roots, yes. Different soils, yes. But we all have roots and they are all located in particular soils.
Wings too. From the day we are born, our parents, elders, teachers and friends are determined to see us succeed. They want us to go far. They want us to fly. And so they stitch feathers to our bodies, metaphorically speaking. They fix wings to our sides. And whether these stick or not, one thing remains: the desire to fly.
So, Dear Rebel, when you assess leaders, followers and comrades (and those in the enemy camp too), don’t forget to factor in roots and wings. It helps when you predict behavior. You get a better and more nuanced sense of what to expect and as importantly what you should not expect.
Roots and wings. Remember.