Where have all the adolescents gone? Apparently, the 21st century earth is replete with teenagers, or kids who matured physically but still retained their childish mentalities. Gone were the days where one had to memorize a book from cover to cover—literally—in order to fulfill a course requirement. No wonder men like Jose Rizal, Apolinario Mabini and Marcelo H. Del Pilar were apt and equipped enough to face the daunting task of liberating the Philippines from Spanish tyranny. Gone were the days were young women cared for their sick relatives and other people as a profession and in the process, educated themselves on proper medical care. We owe what we know much of nursing, piety and blood donation (the American Red Cross) thanks to Florence Nightingale, Mother Teresa and Clara Barton respectively. Do these people have a secret weapon or formula that enabled them to do hard things during their teenage years? 21st century authors Alex and Brett Harris discovered the answer to that question and plainly explained the answer, as well as several crucial insights relating to it, in their book entitled Do Hard Things. Although the book was mainly written for teenagers, Do Hard Things also reaches out to adults who desire to live above the world’s low expectations. Albeit the accessible knowledge and the vast amount of strength present teenagers have in their hands, many of them still fail to maximize their full potentials and leave a mark in the lives of the people around them. According to the authors, many teenagers today are unfortunately blinded by what culture expects of them—expectations that are shallow, less risky and offers quick yet unsatisfying rewards. A “good”, average teenager is one that gets good grades in school and is not involved in drug abuse, alcohol or premarital sex, but his life is not exactly productive. If he’s not doing schoolwork, eating or hanging out with friends, he’s either sleeping or wandering around a popular social networking or gaming site. Six years of teenage life is mostly spent on nothing but a routine of all these activities. The Harris brothers (did I mention they are twins?) provided several similar examples of low expectations and their consequences in their 12-chaptered book. Although the authors dwelled on teaching, inspiring and describing do hard things and the “rebelutionary life” instead of pointing out specific how-to’s and action steps, they made their point loudly and clearly: Don’t waste your teenage years on a boring cycle. Start doing hard things.
Alex Harris and Brett Harris, now twenty-two, launched a blog called “The Rebelution” last August 2005 when they were only sixteen. The website was widely accepted by teenagers from all over the world, and to date, receives about 32 million hits. Two years later, the brothers published their best-selling book Do Hard Things and its follow-up book, Start Here. Today, The Rebelution is a campaign and a movement aimed at helping teenagers all over the world to rebel against worldly expectations. Their movement spread even in the small Philippine archipelago as they featured Filipino “rebelutionaries” in the book and The Rebelution website.
The book consists of parts 1, 2 and 3 having 4, 5 and 3 chapters respectively. Part 1: Rethinking The Teen Years laid the foundations of the book and introduced radical questions that will get a reader off the edge of his seat and keep him reading until the last page. It also explains the concept of the word “rebelution,” which is an amalgamation of “rebellion” and “revolution.” Harris and Harris also introduced a myth responsible for the decline of good quality in adolescent (now called “teenager”) life. Following Part 1 is, of course, Part 2 which dealt with the Five Kinds of Hard. Being the part that took up the most number of chapters had a reason because it was in these five chapters where the authors discussed stepping out of one’s comfort zone in order to accomplish hard things. This part, which takes up the most number of chapters, also illustrates certain hard things one can accomplish in spite having few financial resources and social connections and other limiting factors. “Small hard things” such as obeying and honoring your parents, singing in church and helping your younger brother in his homework are activities that do not pay off immediately, but will surely do at the right time as long as they are combined with faithfulness and diligence. For whatever type of hard thing a person can do, complacency is the number one enemy. A Bits and Pieces line frighteningly paints complacency like this: “Like water, complacent people follow the easiest course—downhill.” (2008, p.92) So now you know what to do if you want to break your crown and come tumbling after it.
Part 3 heightened the inspiration as the Harris brothers takes you into the present, Rebelution scene happening in every area of the world. Stories of teenagers stepping outside their comfort zones creates an itch in one’s heart to turn from zero to heros. What’s more amazing (at least for me) was the story of a Filipina rebelutionary who is doing God’s work down south. Amazing how two Japanese-American authors from the United States are connected to a fellow adolescent here in the Philippines!
The appendix, Do Hard Things, The Gospel and You, relates the foundation the brothers have for their beliefs and reasons for penning Do Hard Things. In the Christian world, this section can be likened to a “Gospel tract.” The book may have a Christian tone—for it was in fact written from the perspective of two Christian men—but it does not mean that the principles it holds would be invalidated by other beliefs.
In all my sixteen years and eight months of existence, I have never encountered a book written by teenagers (or adolescents for that matter) that impacted my life and inspired me to be the teenager God designed me to be save Do Hard Things. I agree with all of the principles and invaluable insights the brothers mentioned in their book because they do not contradict any moral, spiritual or legal laws. Also, I appreciate the Harris brothers for opting a down-to-earth yet profound style of writing. In so doing, I saw their desire to share truth with the world without any malicious desire to feel over and above their fellow adolescents.
The book has achieved its purpose to get teens from here to there—from living a shallow and boring teenage life to experiencing the best and most meaningful life and getting to help others at the same time. Practicality, usability and timeliness—kudos to the book for passing these tests with flying colors. The authors back then had fewer experiences than an average forty-something year old who writes books for teenagers, so Alex and Brett still have a lot of lessons to discover along the way. Then again, one does not have to abuse drug use in order to validate its probity. If you are an adult who’s about to bawl because the reality of your adulthood sunk in just now, you just found the secret to living the exciting life you once dreamt about. You may not have the full advantage of robust health or time (or both), but you do have hope because God is not finished with you yet. As for us teenagers, the call to join the rebelution is incessant for there is yet so much goals left to accomplish; so many dreams to be materialized; so many lives to be saved. Souls are at stake. A war against the world and her low expectations is being waged against us. In the end, only the genuine rebelutionaries will remain. Will you?