Upsetting the applecart, according to Dictionary.com, is to spoil carefully laid out plans. (Source: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/upset–the–applecart) However, how I define upsetting the applecart, is doing anything that will upset the status quo. For instance, if everyone is supposed to wear red, and you are wearing blue, you may be upsetting the applecart.
Sometimes it is important not to upset the applecart. Examples and explanations of situations where it would not be so wise to upset the applecart would be as follows:
- In order to rebel against authority–Ninety percent of the time, it is not a good idea to upset the applecart by rebelling against authority figures in your life, whether it be the police, teachers, or bosses. Not only will you get in trouble, but you will also not likely to induce the changes you want to be made either by the authority themselves, or the peers around you.
- By doing something that is illegal and/or immoral.–If you are upsetting the applecart by doing something that is grossly immoral or illegal because you don’t like something or because you want to do what you want to without any regard to the consequences of your actions, that is being reckless. It is not really changing anything or really “upsetting the applecart” in any positive or significant way.
There are other times, however, when it would be very wise to upset the applecart. Examples of these may be as follows:
- When the people around you are doing something wrong or unproductive (i.e..when things that “have always been done this way” will not accomplish the desired result or results in the long run). –For instance, if you work in an environment where people are regularly nasty to each other and are always fighting, you can upset the applecart, so to speak, by refusing to engage in that environment or instead be speaking encouraging things to those you meet there.
- When you want to accomplish sustained, positive change in the world around you.–For example, many countries in the past engaged in enslaving people that they thought were “inferior” to themselves. Now we know that that is wrong. In the past, many thought it was just the way things were, but abolitionists like William Wilberforce and Fredrick Douglas, worked together to eventually put an end to slavery here in the U.S. They upset the slave owners’ applecart, so to speak, to win the freedom of millions of mistreated African slaves in the U.S.
- When you want to be true to your values and convictions, even if everyone else around you is not in agreement.–For instance, my faith hero, Rachel Scott, made a dent in this world and upset the applecart, by being not only vocal about her Christian faith but also applying her faith to her daily life, even though it meant her losing all of her good friends at school. Another situation where upsetting the applecart may be wise is when you see someone being unfairly treated or bullied, and you stand up for the bully’s victim even when no one else will. This is not primarily about making you a hero, but more about doing the right thing and instigating a positive change in your world.
Whether or not you choose to upset the applecart, the most important thing to remember is how to do it correctly. Remember that upsetting the applecart may be difficult because you are going against the status quo, the grain, so to speak. Some people may not respect your convictions or what you’re doing, but if it is the right thing to do, do it anyway. You may even lose some support along the way, but if you know that this is the right thing to do, don’t give up.
Here’s how to upset the applecart most effectively:
- Think about how you will upset the applecart.–For instance, if your work or school environment is a place where there are a lot of cliques and infighting, determine a way you will change that by not subscribing to the same things your colleagues or classmates are. In this example, I would want to upset the applecart by not participating in the gossip and infighting myself, and by hanging out with many different types of people, not just ones with whom I feel comfortable.
- Determine you will be different in some way than the status quo.–Stand out in some way. –Don’t be afraid to be different, or be yourself, in situations where upsetting the applecart would benefit others. For instance, in multiple sources, Rachel Scott, my faith hero, is quoted as saying, “I won’t be labeled as average.” Rachel Scott was known for upsetting the applecart in a positive way. Her faith and compassion for others stood out. She hung out and encouraged those who no one considered or wanted to be around. She held firm to moral boundaries but rejected shallowness and fakeness.
- Hold firm to your convictions and beliefs always.–Never let what other people think of you and/or your beliefs hinder you in any way. Never surrender your beliefs and convictions if you know that you are right. Yes, be open to others’ wisdom and advice if you are wrong about something or to understand people better. However, never let someone change your beliefs and convictions based only on their benefit or just to please them. Change only because you (or God) want(s) you to.
Upsetting the applecart allows us not only to stand out and be different but also to initiate effective change to our world and those around us. Change, and upsetting the applecart can be upsetting to some people, but they are necessary ingredients to improve oneself and the world around you.