in Journal

The Revolution Starts Here

"He had an Afro and he was wearing big pink sunglasses... he said he was a Vietnam vet and that he had been stocking up on canned food in his trailer-park home for the past two years."

"I have no idea why you would be talking to a drunk guy with pink sunglasses at the bar, but anyway what was he afraid of? What was he planning for?"

"He just came up to me and started talking. He said there's a revolution coming and the whole world is going to change. He's getting ready and planning for the worst. I wasn't really taking this guy seriously, but I've heard a lot of people talking about a revolution. Rumors mostly, but lots of people seem to think something is going to happen."

"Yeah, there's a lot of messed up stuff going on and something needs to change. I don't know. A revolution might happen but I don't think people are going to be on the streets with guns shooting and robbing each other."

I overheard this conversation between to guys sitting at the table next to me in a coffee shop in Boston. It got me thinking: How many other people might be "talking about a revolution coming"?

And if lots of people were talking, why wasn't anything happening? If so many people knew "there's lots of messed up stuff going on and something needs to change", why wasn't more being done to change it?

A revolution doesn't start with rumors or whispers or conversations in a coffee shop. It doesn't start by chatting about the way that other people might start a revolution. It doesn't start by vacillating between what is, what was, and what could be. It doesn't start by perpetuating fear, puttering about, and passing time.

No. The revolution starts when you decide you've had enough. It starts when you stand up and choose to become your own beacon of hope. It starts when you resolve not to give in to negative influence, laziness, and complacency. It starts when you stop waiting for it to start.

Your small acts of resistance -- your stubborn defiance against your inner pessimist and your refusal to accept from the world anything less than what you believe is right -- that will start the revolution. That will create the momentum that's needed.

You can be a bystander. You can watch from the sidelines as the world around you changes in response to the actions of a few. You can complain, criticize, and condemn all the negative things that are happening. You can feel powerless to make a difference. You can sit back and watch life pass you by like a movie, waiting only for the end to arrive before you stand up.

Or you can stand up right now and take matters into your own hands. You can throw the status quo overboard and become a leader and a trendsetter. You can become an innovator and an instigator. A fire starter. A changemaker. A revolutionary. You can stop being afraid and become the person you wish you saw in everybody else.

You can refuse to accept things as they are and do what's necessary to start changing them. You can empower yourself by any and all means. You can take charge. You can refuse mediocrity and rectify injustice. You can stand tall, keep your head up, and hold onto your beliefs.

Ask yourself what you would die for so that you may know the reason you're living.

Identify what your revolution needs and start working towards creating it. Set high goals and march in their direction with relentless dedication and commitment.

Anything your life may need to support your revolution is yours to be had. Expertise, influence, health, wealth, knowledge, experience. The only limits are the ones that you set for yourself. Nothing is out of reach.

The revolution starts when you choose to become a revolutionary.

Write a Comment

Comment

52 Comments

    • I think it really is that simple! Whether it’s resisting our own temptation to be lazy and ignore the injustice around us, or just resisting that unhealthy food because its negative side-effects will be detrimental to not just our health but the health of those around us, resistance plays a crucial part everywhere in our lives. But it’s so important to remember the power behind small acts of resistance… they don’t all need to be huge.

      Just as tiny raindrops of change affect the sea of time, small acts of resistance change the course of history.

  1. Raam,
    Wow..this touches my heart..wow…
    What stands out most to me is “Ask your self what you would die for so that you may know the reason you’re living”..no room for apathy there!
    And: “The only limits are the ones that you set for yourself”..I see this within my own life.. when my mind says “no” or “not possible” or ‘can’t” that’s the result..when I turn my mind off and allow my heart to lead..*anything* is truly possible…the flow of my day has a natural rhythm and I serve passionately and generously, there is an ease to it all and my heart overflows with gratitude for each experience..I think “it is my pleasure”..and it surely is..
    Your energy is amazing, so inspirational to me..thank *you*…

    • Thank you, Joy! It brings joy to my heart to hear how much you enjoyed it! 🙂

      I too have discovered incredible possibilities when we remove our own self-doubt and self-limiting thinking. I think we need to be dreamers first, realists second. We need to envision seemingly impossible things as possible and then let our heart, body, and soul lead the way from there. (I think that’s one area where following our intuition is so important — whenever I’ve resisted my intuition, it always led me down a wrong path.)

      Being in touch with the natural rhythm of life is a beautiful thing, but I think finding that rhythm is a careful (and oftentimes tricky!) balance between taking control of life and allowing the universe to lead the way.

  2. Thanks for reminding me. I was beginning to feel lazy about my goals it was easier to just let things be and live my life. Going with the flow.

    • It’s always going to be easier to go with the flow and watch things pass us by. But that’s not living. That’s waiting! I catch myself waiting all the time and it’s scary once I remember that my time really is limited. I have to keep telling myself that the only way things are going to change is when I take initiative to set them in motion!

      Thank you for the comment, Sarath! 🙂

  3. To add: if it seems impossible, it probably isn’t, if you’re willing to work for it.

    The impossible only seems impossible because it hasn’t been done before… And there’s a first time for everything.

    Nice post, good sir!

    • Great addition, Brett! Impossibility is rarely what it appears to be, but we’ll never know what’s possible unless we stop being afraid and just go for it.

  4. It’s a holiday Monday morning and I’m half asleep so revolutions over coffee seem to make sense to me right now, but I know there is more here, more passion, more inspired words than my brain and soul can absorb in one sitting. I’m going to print this and post it next to my desk and use it to fuel my momentum, my fire, my own revolution each and every morning – okay maybe each and every afternoon. But all this is to say, this is awesome stuff, my friend. You are definitely rocking the world, Raam.

  5. Yes, Raam… revolting against our own inertia and stale thinking is is the only way to start. Waiting for others to take action leads to starting a revolution tomorrow — The one who starts their own personal revolution can start TODAY.

    • Absolutely, Rob! The only person holding us back is ourselves. I find myself waiting for stuff to happen all the time and when I realize nothing is happening, I remember that it’s because I’m not doing anything to make it happen! This really applies to anything, but revolutions, big or small, are the most telling.

  6. “Ask yourself what you would die for so that you may know the reason you’re living.”

    Can’t get any plainer than that! Very thought-provoking article, as usual 🙂

    You’ve given me a lot to think about on this Thanksgiving Day, so thank you, Raam.

    • You’re welcome, Karen!

      That line has been stuck in my head for days now and I finally found a place to use it. It came to me when I was reading the often untold story of Mohammad Ali’s defiance when he was drafted into the Vietnam War. He spent three years in jail, gave up his championship title, and missed out on what probably would’ve been the best years of his career. He refused to go to war because he felt it was wrong that he should fly to the other side of the planet to kill colored people when his own people were being abused and mistreated right in his hometown.

      The story made me think about all the people in history who have done great things and who have stood up in the face of death and refused to move. It really made me think about what things I would be willing to die for and that led me to thinking about the reason I’m even living.

      • “The story made me think about all the people in history who have done great things and who have stood up in the face of death and refused to move. ”

        Thankfully there are people like that all over the world, here is one example:


        00:50 secs in a rather amazing thing unfolds.

        Unfortunately I don’t speak any of the languages, other than English, bso I can’t tell more of the background of this story; but, it’s pretty clear that one person is willing to stand up and try to make a difference, however small.

        • Thank you for sharing that link, Majeeda! I’ve seen several similar videos and I know there have been plenty of people all over the world, people who may be considered “average” but are anything but average. The one that always comes to mind for me is the photo/video of the man standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-nXT8lSnPQ

          I always feel so motivated and inspired when I watch stuff like that. It just reminds me how powerful we can be if we choose not to stand down and if we remain dedicated and committed to a cause.

          • I LOVE that one too! It was such a powerful statement that he made! That footage is amazing.

            No doubt there are many stories coming out of China that we don’t hear about. I was moved recently to see that a human rights activist who is currently in prison in China has received the Nobel Peace prize: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2010/10/20101081305576754.html“. You probably know about it already.

            Sadly there is now news that his wife may have disappeared though I’m not sure if that is confirmed yet.

            “It just reminds me how powerful we can be if we choose not to stand down and if we remain dedicated and committed to a cause” yeah, me too.

  7. Raam, Thank you again for fearlessly sharing what’s on your heart! I liked when you said “Ask yourself what you would die for so that you may know the reason you’re living”. The truth is, however, the fear of death is the plague that paralyzes the whole world. The real question to ask is not what are you willing to die for but are you willing to die for anything? By the end of most peoples life they realize that they didn’t really live for anything(because in reality they weren’t willing to die for anything). You hit the nail on the head my friend, I’m grateful for your inspiration.

    • Hi John,

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment! I agree that there is a mass fear of the death, but I think it’s gone from being a fear to being an unknown. People don’t even think about it. From day to day, so many of us are hidden from it. It just doesn’t feel real (until it happens to someone close). I don’t think fear of death is paralyzing the world, but rather it’s causing everyone to avoid thinking about it so much that they forget it’s even going to happen to them.

      Not one day goes by where I don’t think about my own death. That might sound morbid or depressing, but it’s incredibly freeing and enlightening. It’s a constant reminder for the value of each moment and it makes me more and more grateful for everything in my life. I’m not afraid of death. I accept it. I embrace it. I make peace with it every day and in return I don’t feel held back or wrapped up in only thinking about myself (I slip up from time to time, but that daily reminder keeps me in check).

      When I thought about what I might die for, it made me realize that answering that question would automatically tell me why I’m living. It would give me a sense of purpose and direction. (I’m still asking myself that question, and I don’t have an answer yet.) I actually started thinking about this when I read a often untold story about Mohammad Ali (see my response to Karen’s comment above).

      • Beautifully said Raam. You never cease to amaze me with the depth of your character. I appreciate your honesty when you said that you don’t have an answer yet to your question.

        Benjamin Franklin wrote “It’s odd how little we think of death, since it is a reality that we all must face.” You said not one day goes bv that you don’t think of your own death. You’re a brave man Raam. I also think of my own death everyday, however, I don’t know if I can honestly say that I embrace it, but I face up to it nonetheless. Thinking of my death always brings me back to the question of what am I really living for. The two are tightly woven together.

        • I find that reminding myself of my mortality on a regular basis just makes me spend a little more time thinking about things. It forces me to constantly reevaluate what I’m doing. If I’m wasting a lot of time doing something of little value (like playing a computer game for hours on end, as has happened in the past), that nagging voice in my head always wins over and gets me back on track. It forces me to recognize that my time really is running out.

          That’s another thing: Every day that goes by, I consciously think about how I’m one day closer to not having any time left. Never mind the fact that death could be around the corner. All I need to think about is how when this day ends, that will be one less day I have. The more I do that, the more each day feels like a lifetime. I start to treat each day as if were my last.

          Getting to the state where that’s my mindset 24/7 is a real challenge though. I only get glimpses of it throughout the day and there always seem to be little events that trigger the reminders. Even as I’m writing this now, I’m feeling an increasing sense of how valuable that mindset is and how quickly it can change the way we approach life.

  8. Hi Raam
    I’m late again;)
    But actually when I read this post I thought it is coming from my heart…Thank you Raam.Just I can say Thanks and then try to be a revolutionary as you said. I start with little wrong things in my life and world around me. there was a wise man who once said if you do what you know is right,what you don’t know will be known. and it is my revolution! I WILL DO ALL THE THINGS THAT I KNOW ARE RIGHT THINGS AND I WON’T DO WHAT I KNOW IS WRONG…and then something changes surely. world will answer.

    • Hi Masha,

      I really love that quote and I think that’s exactly where intuition comes in: When we’re doing what we know is right, our intuition guides us towards the things we need. It leads us on the path that we must take (even if that path seems wrong at first). I wrote a bit about this a few months ago when I was in India and learned lessons from a crab.

      Your energy comes right through your comment; thank you! 🙂

  9. Raam, your post resonates, especially during this time leading to the November elections in the U.S.A. The candidates make promises or, usually, attack the other candidate in their 15 to 30 second spots on TV or radio. In the end, is anything likely to change for the better? Probably not. Your words say that the revolution begins within each of us. We cannot delegate our responsibilities to others, then complain that things aren’t to our liking. It is our choice to maintain the status quo or to take action. One of the actions I’ve started: read biographies of individuals who made a difference–e.g., Gandhi, MLK, jr., Ryoma Sakamoto.

    • You hit so many nails on the head, Greg!

      Pushing responsibilities onto others and then complaining about the way things are because of the actions of someone else is taking the lazy approach. It’s an attempt to get more with less risk and effort. It’s trying to cheat success, hack change, and find a shortcut to making a difference. All it really ends up doing is making us empty, fake, and full of air!

      It’s up to every single one of us to make things happen. It’s up to us to start. I love that you’ve told us where you’ve started. I think that’s a fantastic step and I’ve been meaning to read those same biographies myself!

    • Great point, Evan! Once we’ve taken the initial steps, collaboration is very important. Once we have resolved to fight for a cause, we need to connect with other like-minded individuals so we can combine our energy and synchronize our efforts. Sort of like what we’re all doing here in these comments. 🙂

  10. Raam, this is one of those quotes that just jumped out and grabbed me. “Ask yourself what you would die for so that you may know the reason you’re living.” I have to ask, did you come up with this yourself? This is the kind of quote that goes down in history books. I thought about it earlier today when I read your post on my phone, and it’s still lingering in my head.

    Being in the military, this is a question I’ve been confronted with before. I had to swear under oath that I would “support and defend the constitution of the United States.” For many, the requires making the ultimate sacrifice. I am reminded daily that my life is so good because of the sacrifices so many others have made. As messed up as our country is, I still believe there is something here worth fighting for. Of course, I wish it didn’t require fighting for…

    Oath aside, I’m honestly not sure what I would die for. My sister was the first person that popped in my head. There really is so much out there that is worth it though. I’ve spent some time thinking…what is my cause really? What is worth dedicating my life to? It’s somewhat of a daunting questions, which may be the reason I’ve avoided truly facing it. Your post has brought it to the forefront once again. I don’t have an answer now, but this is something I’m going to keep thinking about. Please don’t let it slip into the shadows once again. You are such an inspiration!

    • Hi Adrienne,

      That quote just came to me; I didn’t read it anywhere. But there are so few spoken words and so many people that I’d be surprised if I was the first to say it. 🙂

      You provide an interesting perspective, one that I’ve often thought about myself. I also feel that sense of being so fortunate for the “freedoms” we have in the United States, a sense of patriotism. I think about all the men, women, and children who have died over the last few hundred years, all the people who have in some small way made my life today possible, and I feel a sense of responsibility to at least do my fair share of service. But then I feel conflicted with how screwed up others parts of the system are now or how misplaced priorities can get and I wonder if I would be doing a disservice instead of a service!

      I also share your frustration with answering the question of what is worth dedicating our life to. I’ve been facing that question on and off for years now and I’m beginning to realize that choosing something and sticking with it, or just working towards something that seems worth a lifetimes work, is better than spending my whole life wondering what I should chose only to get to the end with nothing to show for it.

  11. Yeah Raam the super patriotism is a very dangerous and common thing. I was born legally blind so that growing up and living in an area that prides itself on militarism and how wonderful it is to to serve your country by going off and killing other people on the other side of the planet Just doesn’t make sense. I am very glad you mention that it is all the little things we stand up for that count as service to one’s community.

    Like you I am having trouble with the question of what I would be willing to die for. It is a truly great question.

    • Thanks Gary. I think that serving ones country should be secondary to serving ones community, and I think that’s something that far too many people gloss over, myself included. In this world of extreme individualism, it’s tough to even think on communal scales, especially when things like the Internet and mobile phones make you only a few inches from everybody else. The real world local community is taking a backseat in favor of the global economic and social community.

      But when it seems like everybody else around you is immersed in their own world (as I probably appear to be right now typing this comment on my phone sitting in the train and wearing headphones), when nobody appears interested in the local community, it’s a challenge to work and even think on that level (even more so for someone introverted like myself). However, I think it’s important not to ignore the role technology can play in bringing people together in the real world and I think the revival of local community participation on a large scale will take place with technology playing a huge role.

  12. I think that sometimes, revolutions indeed might start with rumors or whispers in a coffee shop. It’s a gathering place, much in the same sense of this blog. We chat, we exchange ideas, and then we notice that we aren’t alone with this feeling that something is wrong. Our worries are in line with the thoughts of hundreds and thousands others, and we indeed can produce the change we want to see in the world.

    The consciousness about this is the seed, it’s the first step. Now, you are totally right, we have to take action to make our dreams a reality.

    • I think we’re in agreement, Fabian. Revolutions can definitely spread and grow in gathering places, but in the end (or the beginning, depending on how you look at it) they really start inside each individual. It’s when enough people are feeling the same thing and when they come together to turn those feelings into change that something happens. And the thing that determines when that will happen all rests on how motivated each person is; how passionately they want something to change.

      That’s why I think it’s so important for us to recognize the huge role each of us plays in starting any revolution or really making things change.

  13. “Be always able to feel, in the depths, any injustice done against anyone, anywhere in the world. It’s the most beautiful quality of a revolutionary.” – Che Guevara

    Great post. 🙂

  14. Raam, you certainly have a way with words; now I’m a little bummed sitting in my room, blogging haha.

    There’s so many things that I’m absolutely tired of but it’s always felt like I’d never make a difference since many of those things have become the “social norm”.

    Look for the underground I say. Make others afraid of what you’re capable of; shake up the foundation and put a stop to the system.

    One thing that immediately comes to mind are the raves I go to; they have a bad stigma and I’m not going to lie that many things are very true there but it happens all the time – people try to shut it down. It’s always felt that it’s never that the music was too loud, it was because it was a group of people that were free thinkers wanted to make their own reality.

    It applies to a lot of things in life; we have to be defiant of those that try to keep us down, start that revolution one idea and action at a time. Make our own happiness, ya know?

    • Thank you for the comment, Murlu. I hear what you’re saying about feeling like you can’t make a difference because something has become the “social norm”. I think the important thing to remember is that your individual resistance, if expressed passionately enough, has the power to spread to others around. You have the power to change the social norm if you’re passionate enough about the change.

      It’s easy to see so many things that should be changed, but when that’s all we’re doing (seeing or talking about the things that should be changed), nothing is going to change! We need to pick one thing that we’re really passionate about, figure out what actionable steps we can take, start taking those steps, and then sharing our passion with others. Start living our passion. Become the beacon for that change. Then anyone else who agrees with your position will automatically find you in the sea of darkness and you can collaborate with others and become a bigger beacon and change even more.

  15. Awesome article Raam…

    I really enjoyed your article. Your article really reflects on why we need to take action right now…in order to start our own revolution.

    I am privileged to feature this article in my Sunday Synopsis.

    You have a good day brother.

  16. My family’s boycotting GMO products in our home. My grandmother started it, now almost our entire family’s on board (like 40 people?). It’s amazing how much she’s changed, and even though it’s a really hard change to make with our situation, it’s worth it.

    What are you guys going to change? What do you want to change? I’m curious, and maybe we can change things together!

    • Thank you for sharing that, Renee! All it takes is one person. 🙂

      I’ve been focusing a lot lately on creating harmony in my life and changing my relationship to technology and communication. Instead of being reactive, I’m focusing on creating habits that allow me to be proactive, to give not only those in my vicinity my full attention, but to also give myself full attention.

      Being present to myself allows me to feel more of my environment and care more deeply within each passing moment. 🙂

Webmentions

  • JoesUnionReview February 7, 2012

    #OccupyWallST Inspiring Piece: The Revolution Starts Here, 7th Paragraph on are why I am showing up this weekend… http://t.co/ZaNeEgkd

  • JoesUnionReview February 7, 2012

    #OccupyWallST Reason to show up FRI-SAT: The Revolution Starts Here
    #Labor #1U http://t.co/jYEYzdCu

  • JoesUnionReview February 7, 2012

    "The revolution starts when YOU decide you’ve had enough…It starts when YOU stop waiting for it to start."… http://fb.me/DxK0TKk4

  • Just Jaco February 7, 2012

    The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX by raamdev

  • Just Jaco February 7, 2012

    RT @raamdev: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • Jonathan David February 7, 2012

    Reading @raamdev: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • Derek Earl Baron February 7, 2012

    RT @raamdev: “He had an Afro and he was wearing big pink sunglasses…" from The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • The Revolution Begins Within « Always Well Within February 7, 2012

    […] The revolution is now. It begins within. It starts with you. […]

  • Jonathan Ziemba February 7, 2012

    Taking Initiative and Instigating Change via @raamdev http://bit.ly/9GK2MH Following “The Revolution Starts Here” http://bit.ly/978Jme

  • Taking Initiative and Instigating Change February 7, 2012

    […] a Nepali friend and a regular reader, left the following note on my Facebook Wall: Reading “The Revolution Starts Here” was very insightful. It gave me the moral support that is lacking in our […]

  • dohop February 7, 2012

    RT @raamdev: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX Very, very much worthy of your time.

  • Jennifer Barry February 7, 2012

    RT @raamdev: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • Adam Paudyal February 7, 2012

    RT @raamdev: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • Bill Gerlach February 7, 2012

    RT @raamdev: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • RobinEaston February 7, 2012

    The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX – via @raamdev << Brilliant.

  • 20 Tips to Bounce Back from the Wrong Side of the Bed | Experience Life Fully February 7, 2012

    […] Starting a revolution (Raam Dev) […]

  • Jerry Buchko February 7, 2012

    Reading: @raamdev: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • Jarkko Laine February 7, 2012

    RT @raamdev: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • Katie Tallo February 7, 2012

    Great article by @raamdev http://bit.ly/d2smHo

  • Justin Lane February 7, 2012

    Good article. RT @raamdev: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • The Revolution Starts Here von Raam Dev « N-o-t-i-z-b-l-o-g February 7, 2012

    […] The Revolution Starts Here […]

  • Hal Brown February 7, 2012

    RT @kruby: RT @raamdev: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • Adrienne Jurado February 7, 2012

    Powerful! "Ask yourself what you would die for so that you may know the reason you’re living" @raamdev – A revolution – http://bit.ly/d2smHo

  • Karen Ruby February 7, 2012

    RT @raamdev: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • Katie Tallo February 7, 2012

    @raamdev – You say you want a revolution … http://bit.ly/d2smHo

  • Lynn Fang February 7, 2012

    Brilliantly inspiring >> RT @raamdev: New on raamdev.com: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • Brett Hagberg February 7, 2012

    RT @raamdev: New on raamdev.com: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • Jacob February 7, 2012

    RT @raamdev: New on raamdev.com: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • Sid Savara February 7, 2012

    RT @raamdev: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • Jackie Torres February 7, 2012

    The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/a3aihA

  • Alfredo Jenks February 7, 2012

    The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/a3aihA

  • Sandra Lee February 7, 2012

    RT @raamdev: New on raamdev.com: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX

  • Ali Dark February 7, 2012

    RT @raamdev: New on raamdev.com: The Revolution Starts Here http://bit.ly/agBvbX