Friday, March 26, 2010

Personal Battles and Revolution

If you look back on history, or, okay, even better, open a newspaper and look at current events, you’ll see that revolution isn’t so much about war and rebellion so much as bringing about change. The early Americans had issues with how the English government was running our country from afar and decided to do something about it. To do what it took to change the rules, to adapt them so that they better fit the people living on this continent, rather than one thousands of miles away.

The civil war started, basically, over slavery and an intense need for those people to be freed, treated as human beings—which was a long process, granted, but served a much bigger purpose by helping shape this country into a stronger, bigger power. One in which all people would—eventually—be treated equally. Or at least, as equally as possible considering we’re all human.

That’s on a big scale. But if you look at smaller organizations, smaller businesses and even families, the same principles apply. In order to affect change, you must first question the thing that needs to be changed, then do what you can to initiate that change. Even if your personal revolution consists solely of having a conversation with someone in which you express your honest feelings by laying out the reasons the rules don’t work. If you do it right, you might find you have the ability to change something for the better.

However, there’s also a caveat to this line of thinking. Every war has casualties. Should you decide to fight any battle for change, there’s always a good possibility that the person lying on the ground in a pool of blood might be you. The question you need to ask is whether or not you’re willing to risk that, to take on that responsibility for yourself, and anyone else who chooses to back you on your mission.

And then ask yourself what you’ll do if you lose the battle. What will be the consequences to your words or actions? And what will you do next? How far are you willing to go to get what you want? At what point do you decide that the costs outweigh the benefits and consider changing course?

What makes you decide to fight one battle, but not another?

Maybe…maybe it’s a matter of thinking. In the case of the above-mentioned wars, it became increasingly clear over many years of time that something had to give. Those people—our ancestors—felt like they had no other choice but to fight, and fight they did. The revolutionaries in those cases won numerous battles and brought about more changes than we can probably even imagine.

But when it comes to smaller things, does it really have to be a war? And is what you’re after really worth the fight? Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. I think this is where you have to think things through carefully.

If you’re a writer, this same line of thinking can apply to plot and character. What matters to your character? What are they willing to fight for and what will be the cost of the battle if they do? What happens if they win? What happens if they lose?

Basically, how high are the stakes and what can the character do about them? And how can the main character make the changes necessary to make their life, or their world, better?

In real life, what battles will you jump into, and from which ones will you walk away in order to pursue other, more important fights? Do you really want to go to a party where you’re unwanted or would you rather throw a party of your own? And why is the party important to you in the first place? You might be better off doing something much more productive with your time, and whether or not the partiers eventually miss you, will you actually, in the long run, truly miss them?

What battles are you currently fighting and how important are they in the grand scheme of your life?

**This is not meant to be a political discussion, so let's please refrain from diving into the depths of certain current events as related to opinions meant to sway people in one direction or another. This is simply a thought process which turned into a blog.

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Carolyn V. said...

This may not sound like much of a battle, but whose turn is it to do the laundry. That is a battle at my house. =) Awesome post Nichole.

Angie said...

Great post and important to think about. I'm in a constant battle with certain trials in my life, but I trust with God's help I'll emerge victorious!

L.T. Elliot said...

I battle myself a lot and in those fights, sometimes it's a lot harder to see when I should pursue peace instead.

When it comes to battling others, I've almost always chosen peace. I'm only recently gaining the courage to fight for a few things--important ones--and there's a huge sense of liberation in that.

Keith Fisher said...

It almost seems that everything is a battle these days. Most times the battles choose me, rather than the other way around. I think my biggest battle, though, is keeping quiet. I think self Mastery is the biggest battle of them all. Good luck in your battles.

because of battles that happened many years ago, I no longer fight the laundry battle. My wife refuses to let me near the laundry.

Nichole Giles said...

Me too, Carolyn! Laundry is a never-ending battle here, and one I wish I didn't have to fight.

Angie, so true!

L.T. You're right. I'm like you, and most often choose peace. But every once in a while I find I have to go another route, and it is, as you said, liberating. And empowering. Some battles have to be fought for the greater good of those involved.

Keith, FYI self-mastery is probably the most fought battle of all time. We all have issues with that!