There are two types of people in the world.
There are establishmentarians and there are iconoclasts.
Establishmentarians like the establishment. They like the traditional, normal way of doing things, and looking at the world. Often, they trust authority figures. If you challenge an authority or a tradition, they’re likely to defend them just because they are the settled status quo, the normal.
And then you have the other people. I affectionately call them the anarchists. They don’t like normal. At least, that’s what I’m left thinking watching them. They seem to be always upsetting the status quo, challenging, why, why why? They don’t trust tradition, and they don’t trust the people up on high. They want to find out for themselves, and often, they want to do things differently. Sometimes, I wonder if they want different just for the sake of different.
So you have the pro-normal and the pro-different. The establishmentarians and the iconoclasts.
For the sake of full disclosure, I am firmly an establishmentarian. I like normal. I like tradition. I tend to trust authorities. I have a clear-cut (and somewhat narrow) comfort zone. I don’t like people suggesting we should turn the world upside down and do everything different. Some people, I think, just like change. Why can’t they see it as I see it? Why can’t they realise that change isn’t good just because it’s change, and that normal isn’t bad just for being normal? Why do they have to challenge everything, and change everything, and question everything? In short, why do they have to like turning upside down my whole comfort zone?
I love these people. Actually I do.
Okay, first they drive me mad. I don’t understand why they challenge everything. Why do they have to do everything differently? Why aren’t they satisfied with the status quo? Sure, some things might be wrong in this world, and we do need to fix those things, but that doesn’t mean the system’s useless. I like to work within the system, within what I’m used to, but these people seem to enjoy challenging the normal system.
And that’s a good thing. The anarchists aren’t the bad guys, attacking civilisation and culture and all good things. They are simply the roamers. The restless people. They keep me on edge.
I have a few of them in my life. They’re people who criticise the first world for being so much richer than the third world, or who like the Occupy movement, or like quoting slightly post-modern thinkers and distrusting modernistic certainty, or not call themselves “Christians” because they don’t like the label (you guys know who you are!) . They’re wonderful people.
Maybe they think they’re normal. Maybe they see themselves as establishmentarians, with their comfort zones threatened by “weird people on the outside”. I don’t know. Maybe I should ask them. But I know for me, they are so often outside my comfort zone. I know they challenge me and make me think about the status quo, and if I should really accept it, or why I do.
At the very least, when I bump into the anarchists in my life, I have to start thinking of reasons why I like normal. Sometimes I have to accept that normal isn’t good enough. Maybe, slowly, they’re turning me into an iconoclast too (only on a few things I promise).
This is all good. I need friends who challenge my sense of normal and acceptable. They’re like those adventure tour guides who coax you onto that wire and get you to walk across that really, really high tightrope, taking your mind places you didn’t feel comfortable going.
And maybe I can make them think too- think about whether we need to go recklessly into a new era of change, without learning from the past and accepting what is good in the world. Maybe.
But this is a tribute to the anarchists in my life. Good grief, sometimes you make me nervous, but I need it.
To the anarchists!