Submitted for The Red Room blog contest about “Revolutions”

From the moment we’re born, each of us is thrust into a conflict that’s existed for the entirety of human civilization. Depending on our circumstance, the place where we grew up, our social status, our race, gender, sexual orientation, or spiritual inclination, each of us have, or inevitably will, experience personal trauma so utterly devastating to our individual identity that the invisible chains paralyzing our mind, body, and spirit begin to fade away. That conflict is a perceptual one.

Revolution. It’s a word that invokes this romanticized idea of conquering corruption and toppling tyrannical regimes. I’ve been a victim of the idealism, the splendor, of pondering what could be. Especially in my youth, I dreamed of a just world where everyone was in and nobody out, where war ceased to exist and the only concern people had was what game to play that day.

But I had it all wrong. It took me years and years of scrapping knees, of meditating on the beach and in the grand forests of the Northwest, of reaching deep inside my bowels of fear and repressed emotion that each of us stores at our core, and of lessons learned through books, through self-proclaimed prophets, and of course, through life’s gentle, sometimes turbulent, embrace before the picture became more vivid. If you want to change the world, you change yourself first.

To understand any revolution, you have to understand the revolutionary. The revolutionary dreams of a world engulfed in flames, where solid foundations bracing seemingly indestructible walls of social stability crumble, allowing chaos to flow like a river into our physical and psychological worlds. The revolutionary, whether due to oppression, injustice, arrogance, or simply boredom, smiles at the thought of total collapse, of every single person being reduced to their individual component, where material possession and status symbols become as valued as sand on a beach.

Revolutions are, in the most general sense, a collective explosion of pure destructive energy, this force gathering deep within the minds and souls of revolutionaries entrenched within a society over years, if not decades. It the most intimate connection to “nature” humanity has — the harsh hug of anarchy, the violent regression to an almost primitive state, and even that cautious glimpse at true freedom, for what is freedom is not the absence of law, of coercion, of structure.

Revolution takes time because the revolutionary doesn’t grow overnight. It took me a lifetime to get where I am today. What upheavals appear as an explosion actually represents, like sex, the releasing of emotional tension – realized through a wondrous climax, then followed by a quickly dissipating euphoria that gives way to the realization that you are naked and tired.

No, the revolutionary – and I do consider myself one – gradually evolves into a being truly free in mind and spirit. The fire is fueled through observations of injustice inside the system, by slamming, head first at times, into the societal barriers to personal growth, and by experiencing, perhaps violently, personal loss by the perpetrators of order. And because of this, the revolutionary exists outside of the social bubble we’re all initially born into. We see the real war waged on battlefields of books, broken land, and courtrooms – the war over what world-view wins dominance, and which are marginalized, shunned, and even outlawed.

So what changed? Where did the romanticized revolution of old disappear to: the fearless libertarians of France, the musket-bearing forefathers of America, and even the exploited and tired factory workers of the early 20th century. After a lifetime of economic struggle swimming in the lower to lower-middle class, of my political power being reduced checked box every couple of years, of feeling the fist of law enforcement upon my face during a peaceful protest, and of participating in a media system that echoes the official message of business and government while stifling others, I woke up. And that is a revolutionary act.

Awareness is freedom, greater than any gun fired by any freedom fighter across time and space, stronger than any army that walks the Earth. Real revolution beings with “you” and grows through “others.” It congeals and morphs into a contagion, slowly infecting others with not a disease but an antibody. It is slow, but calculated. It is, for all intents and purposes, the very nature of the universe – change. And it changes the face of entire civilizations like a great sea carving canyons through a mountain range over centuries.