• Connor Thomas

The Shadow of Rebellion

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

Digesting raw feeling and fighting with acceptance.

Heading into the unknown, I leave the life I have behind for two weeks. Accepting the state of this world and the indifferent attitudes of those around me, I hope somehow that I can make a difference. I can’t stop talking about it, can’t stop planning and acting. I know I’m doing too much and I can’t say no, because what I do will never be enough.

I’m in London. I’m surrounded. High visibility jackets, apathetic faces and loud piercing sirens. Yet this is nothing, this is nothing compared to what they go through. This is our only shot at creating a better world! Keep on! Come on! KEEP ON keeping on.

You awaken.

Was it a dream or a nightmare?

Did we make progress?

Did people listen?

Why don’t people listen?

Questions like these, or of similar nature, may have cropped up in your thoughts. You might have tried to answer them. They may have made it into conversation with fellow rebels, family or friends in which a positive or negative answer was produced. They may sit unattended and repressed, occasionally causing minor earthquakes in your attitude and orientation to yourself and others. How long do we keep the unspoken feelings submerged before they breach the surface and create an unwanted tsunami of disconnection and despair?

Recently, times have been steady. The waters are calmer, yet the waves of disorder haven’t fully settled. Society feels a little strange. It takes a little bit of readjustment to come home to a house with four walls, after sleeping in a tent outside of a government building. Soon, you may have your first citizens assembly in a room rather than in a street. You may have been to, or plan to go to a debrief or welcome party soon. You may be about to do another action or begin planning one with fellow rebels. How do you feel about it?

Do you feel like you are expected to maintain happy, positive and hopeful vibes? Is there space for raw emotion to come to the surface? Are we taking time to answer questions that plague us?

These probing questions might make me look as if I am trying to play the devil’s advocate. However, I feel as if I’m checking in with our reality. I’m going to open my wounds up and tell you that after the rebellion I experienced burnout. Below I’m going suggest something that may be hard to do, though from my experience, I feel it’s essential.

As I smoulder away in my own internalised despair, I can tell that people are noticing I’m not as chirpy or happy as I once was. From their point of view I seem less hopeful. I do feel less hopeful.

What use is hopelessness and despair, I wonder. This feeling is useless I decide. Let me put it aside for a moment while I plan the next action or write the next piece!

When I had the spring of a lamb on a frosty May morning, I had no need to consider anything except what was next; like a hound awaiting his companion throwing another ball to fetch. Now I’ve been at this game of fetch a while and my legs don’t have the spring they once had. I was feeling terrified about our future, rolling around in reoccurring despair and amid depths of exhaustion. Everything felt urgent. It certainly was (and still is) a situation of urgency, and what does urgency bring with it?

Manic activity.

Within manic activity there is often something we forget about. The walks we used to go on with our companions. The books we used to love dipping in and out of. The healthy food we once had the energy to prepare. The social connections we were motivated to maintain. Over time all of these (and many more important to you) were forgotten about. Ultimately, our sense of self diminished.

I can guess that this happened to many of us prior to, during and after the rebellion. I can predict that, like myself, you struggled (or in my case, didn’t want) to admit that you were slowly losing yourself in the pursuit of doing good. Behold, the doom and gloom of the shadow I’ve shone light on here does evaporate in the candlelight of connection, inspiration and self-disclosure.

Post rebellion is a time for us to begin appreciating what we have, how far we have come and acceptance of how far we’ve got to go.

It’s time to be vulnerable. It’s time to ask for support.

We may have come home to loved ones who don’t understand, housemates who think we’re crazy or best friends who think we’re amazing. I’m asking you now, to prioritise your own wellbeing for the future of the movement. Without connection, we can’t be inspired. Without inspiration to open our minds and guts, we can’t self-disclose. Without disclosure, we carry the weight of uncertainty, despair and exhaustion into our next action, interaction, and ultimately, our next thought.

Even when it feels like you’re admitting how inexcusable humanity seems (which in many cases, they really are!), it’s better to accept the reality of this world, than distort your vision of it. If we can’t accept the totality of a problem, we can’t actively begin to fix it. In hindsight, I can see my anger towards my fellow species was a useful tool to motivate me to act. Although, this anger is like a fossil fuel; you can burn it and it’ll propel you forward!

Eventually though, it’ll run out, you will burn out. It’s time to get on the good stuff! So, we look for bountiful regenerative sources of fuel: broccoli, cabbage, lentils, beans, pears, beets, plant-based patties and LOVE! That LOVE full of the compassion we show towards animals, we must learn to show towards ourselves and those around us, no matter how ignorant the other seems.

When you feel anguish, desolation, sadness, hopelessness or anything that puts a black tint in your green glasses… I ask you to not be the ignorant one. Tell somebody about it. A brother, a mother, a friend or a fellow rebel (or even a therapist, these people are here to listen.

Let’s practice:

Patience with ourselves and others.

Persistence in our self-disclosure and actions.

Acceptance of the diabolic state this world is in because of human action.


Photo credits: Steven Tiller

©2020 by Vegan Night School