The Prophecy of the Broken Egg: (Part 2) The Psychology of Revolution

For as long as animals and humans have ruled over others in their prides, packs, tribes and families, revolution has been a part of the process of change. The way that so many of us have been taught to use and abuse power, as well as the tendency for many animals to define power structures and hierarchies, results in those who have it and those who don’t. It is the belief and the perception that the haves get what they want (often at the expense of the have-nots) that drives the continued struggle for power. As long as the haves can maintain “control’ over their counterparts, everything seems fine. Right?

Most people don’t realize that the need for control is based in fear. No matter how much power people feel that they have over others, there is always a fear that others may want what they have, and often we end up giving power to objects rather than to ourselves. What often hides this fear of losing control are arrogance and hatred, not confidence and pride. Additionally, the more they fear a loss of power, often the more extreme the methods to hold on to power through any number of techniques: terror, brainwashing, manipulation, threat, and creating conflicts between others who would be a threat if they allied their power together. An example of the division of power to misdirect conflict was giving different levels of power to the various South African tribes from the Zulus to the Hottentots. When they were brought closer together under a more unified front with Nelson Mandela (after he fought his own internal revolution), the Apartheid system of government could no longer stand, and a more democratic ideal that he worked toward was realized.

What Neslon Mandela and many others throughout history created in the mind of others was a revolution of thought and inspiration. When that “revolution of thought” became a threat to those who held positions of power, those rulers often sought to control the will and minds of others. Consider this: when people rule over others, they often want “those who serve them” to be as intelligent and motivated as they can be to promote the wants and needs of the ruler, but not so intelligent and motivated that they can undermine or overthrow them.

Power Hungry

As it has been said, power is an alluring aphrodisiac, and it is often the aphrodisiacal power over people that drives us to abuse it at the expense of others. It is when the loss of freedom, power and control of those feeling abused overwhelms the power of their own fear that revolutions are born. In other words, there is a shift in the balance of power of emotions within us from fear to anger/rage/inspiration. For those who remember the movie Network, “I am sick and tired of it, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

A revolution occurs when those who feel exploited/abused and don’t have “status power” collectively pull together to take their power back and seek to overthrow those with the power “over them”. If we consider the roles that we play in our culture, revolutions occur when “Victims” collectively challenge their “perceived Persecutors” because there is no one to “rescue” them. What often happens is that their anger, rage and hatred that had been repressed for so long behind their fear and terror, results in those “victims” becoming “Justified Persecutors”. This means that the subsequent persecution of those who once ruled over them is sanctioned by the belief that they were exploited and/or abused, so they don’t have to feel guilt about their actions. They feel justified in their actions to cause pain to those who once ruled them. Consider many of the massacres that have occurred at the beginning of revolutions and the damage that unbridled rage and hatred have caused.

Just Who Is In Charge Here?

There are often circumstances when a few inspire the many to revolt, whether they are the Mandelas, Gandhis, Jeffersons and Washingtons, or the Stalins and Husseins of the world, that those who follow those revolutions are often beholden to the intelligence, ideals, motivations and moral values of the leaders of the revolution. Those involved in revolution want change, but if they are not leading the change, they may not see the outcome that those leaders of change intend. Furthermore, there are those who latch onto the process of change for good to hijack the change process for their own ends. The outcome was that the many who participated in this process of change to free themselves ended up being exploited once again. It is sometimes these fears that prevent change from happening. I think we all have heard the phrase, “The devil you know is often better than the devil you don’t.”

Emotion Commotion

What so many often don’t realize is that it is emotion that drives revolution and change, and it is ironically often the fear of pain that keeps things from changing. Fear, terror, pain, anger, rage, hatred, inspiration, passion, love, courage… these are some of the emotions that drive the process of change and the revolutions that evoke them. While fear and terror help us to realize that change is necessary; and anger, rage and hatred may motivate us to act, passion, love and courage need to be part of the fuel to see the change process through to an outcome that all can benefit from. Revolution just for the sake of change may not lead to better change. This is where wisdom, experience and truth are a premium.

People who allow themselves to be ruled over are often in a state of ignorance, which is why so many may be easily misled. Those who inspire revolution seek to play on the emotions of those that they wish to join them. Our emotions can serve us to promote the positive change we desire only as well as we are educated to see the change we desire and the details it takes to create and maintain the change. The process of “ousting the dictator” is just the beginning. Implementing and realizing the change is the journey.

Opportunity Knocks

As we see these revolutions taking place around the world, be mindful of these issues. Furthermore, don’t stop with the idea that revolution can only occur in a culture between people. For real change to occur, revolution has to occur within ourselves for our world to truly change. You can spray paint a hunk of iron with gold paint, and it will look golden, but when you change one electron in an atom, it changes the elemental structure of that atom.

Cultures often engender common belief systems and durable patterns that are resistant to change. Although we may see opportunity for positive change in our lives and cultures, as a psychologist, I see how difficult change can be. It takes hard work, diligence, focus, vision and trust in those guiding the change process. When people have felt oppressed and exploited for generations, trust is a commodity that is difficult to come by. That lack of trust can halt change like a truck hitting a brick wall, and it is fear that drives mistrust. In any change process we have to be mindful of our emotions and the emotions of others around us. We all influence each other, whether we want to realize it or not, and to promote change we have to support each other and respect each other. Growth may feel frightening, but need not be painful.  Again, the journey is as important as the destination.

It is my goal that we grow closer to truth. To do this, it is imperative that we face our fear and embrace our truth. Let love, wisdom and passion be the fuel that feeds to process of change, within ourselves, our community, our nation and our world.

Vive la Revolution

Dr. E…