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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What is a "Radical?"

What the hell does radical really mean? When you have to ask that question, the word probably should not be used when calling on others to be that. So, what in my view, is a radical person, how does this behavior or lifestyle effect ones real life.

I looked up the word radical and we may be surprised at its technical meaning. Here are a few definitions;

1. of or going to the root or origin; fundamental: a radical difference.
2. thoroughgoing or extreme, esp. as regards change from accepted or traditional forms: a radical change in the policy of a company.
3. favoring drastic political, economic, or social reforms: radical ideas; radical and anarchistic ideologues.
4. forming a basis or foundation.


9. a person who holds or follows strong convictions or extreme principles; extremist.
10. a person who advocates fundamental political, economic, and social reforms by direct and often uncompromising methods.

It would seem, to me, that a radical person would be one who forms or discovers a foundational or fundamental root, through strong conviction and drastic means, which challenges current or traditional belief structures of society. A radical person is one who advocates fundamental change by any means possible outside the normal scope of society. (I think defining NORMAL would be much harder today)

I can see why many institutions of society would tend to shy away from radical persons, they are a threat to the accepted norm. It is the accepted norm that creates a since of dis-equilibrium in many radical people. Where do these trouble makers come from? Are they born with a special " I am going to make you uncomfortable" gene, or are the grown into restless "apple cart" tippers? I think it may be both. Many of the "out of the box" doers tend to be full of energy from birth. Their energy takes them past the neighborhood sandlot and into areas of pending disaster as kids. Skateboarding down the steepest street around, or jumping the biggest dirt pile on bikes, or climbing the tallest tree. They are internally driven to explore their world, even if it means going past the safety of normalcy, they are driven to that place called adventure risk.

These radical types began to soon realize that their peers have a distorted view of them. The radical kid learns that stepping outside the parameters of society yields rejection. They garner names like crazy, weird, freak, insane, stupid, uncontrollable, and so on. But then as all things do, these kids grow up. They are exposed to the watershed domain between acceptance and rejection. They are both feared and loved. They become the driven fortune 500 CEO, the decorated general, the community activist, the one who is constantly hanging it all out there with the "all in" attitude that makes others either embrace them or run from them.

This mixed message sent to radical person's creates a huge internal struggle. Stepping outside societies norms, although natural for radicals, seems to give birth to self condemnation for being different, wrong, or broken. Like everyone else, radicals have an innate need for acceptance and belongingness which is seldom met. Why cant radicals just shut up, sit down, and be like everyone else? But if that happened, where would we be today. What would society look like without the likes of Edison, Einstein, Franklin, Parks, King, or Jesus? From my desktop, society would be a pretty ugly place to live. Many of societies norms need to be challenged. Many behaviors need to be redirected towards better life solutions. The " it has always be done this way" is not always a good platform to base one's life choices off of. Safety and caution go together like radical and risk, but can not both arenas work together to create a better place for all of us to live?

Do we really want to live in the mundane complacency of the daily sheltered routine our entire life? Are we not bored with the safety of same-ness? I think we are as a whole. Why else would all of these "risky" reality shows be so popular? I think there are millions of you out there screaming for some real adventure in life. I think many of you are literally dying to have some meaningful experience to an otherwise fearfully safe life. I think it is time you seek out your local radical and say "I'm in, take me past the sandlot and lets explore the possibilities life has to offer."

How do we become radical in our everyday life? Seek to change your daily perspectives. I challenge you to spend just one day of being aware of different possible view points to your normal routine. Take a different way to work, shop at a different store, look out different windows then you normally do, listen when you would normally talk, turn off the television for the whole day, read one chapter from several books in one sitting, these are small steps to changing the way you see life. You may just wake up in a different world, I know that is risky but its fun.


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