9.10.2007

Blind Obedience


In light of particular and recent online communications I feel it is of the utmost importance to address a behavior that is a plague on society. Blind obedience. We are taught, from a very early age to obey our elders, to obey authority, and to obey anyone who has a piece of paper stating they are an expert in some field or another. We are taught not to question.

From the standpoint of a parent, in very young children this is taught and used as a matter of protection of our children. Very young children (up to ages5-7) have little understanding of cause and effect, choice and consequence - so it lands in the parent's lap to protect them from themselves and others by ordering blind obedience from them. "Because I said so" is the typical phrase uttered from the mouths of weary parents. But when a child comes of an age and is able to comprehend the ideas behind cause and effect, choice and consequence the time for "because I said so" has come to an end, although obedience in lieu of life experience should still take place in the form of mentoring - not control.

Furthermore, when that person is an adult, with not only a theoretical understanding of the concepts, but experience and practical application of said concepts the time for blind obedience should stop completely. The idea that one should simply obey an order even if it is an unlawful and baseless order is so pervasive in our society that it has come to allow the deterioration of our rights and freedoms. "Let the courts sort it out!" is often heard. Why should we burden the court system when the issue can be solved at its most basic level?

"Arguing with police over an unlawful arrest is stupid", or so I've heard. "The doctor is always right" is another pervasive fallacy I can't stand. Blind obedience does more than just cause problems in courts and create sheep like behavior. Its downright dangerous. I once had a pediatrician tell me that when my child refuses to sleep, I should allow the crying and fits of hysteria to go on indefinitely. "Even if the child vomits" she said "just let it go, let the child sleep in the vomit." I wasn't the only one who received this advice from this doctor. My first response was to tell the woman she was out of her mind, and then further filed a formal complaint about her for giving advice that could endanger a child. The other mother who received the same advice (Whom I'm acquainted with personally) followed the advice, to the T. When I spoke to the mother I asked her why on earth would you do that? Do you have any idea how dangerous that is? Never mind cruel, unusual, unsanitary and plain old disgusting?

Her response was "Well the doctor told me to do it." Who cares what the doctor said! I asked her why she wouldn't put pillows and blankets and toys in the crib at night, her response "Well thats dangerous, he could suffocate, and the doctors told me not to." I said well numb-nuts a person, particularly a baby can just as easily aspirate on vomit. I asked her what she would have done had her son suffocated on his own vomit in the middle of the night and died. "What would you do then?"

"Oh" she said "I hadn't thought about that." Well no shit Sherlock. If she had thought about it, even for a minute, she wouldn't have done it.

This kind of mentality extends to police force and authority as well. People seem to have the impression that if a police officer or other law enforcer says "Jump", we should say "How high, Officer?" When society lends the kind of control that blind obedience allows to a group who already has more power than the average citizen (police, military) you create a Police State. At that point intimidation and corruption can freely thrive.

Think about this for a moment. If society in pre-Nazi Germany had thrown off the ideals of blind obedience (or similar ideologies) do you think that Hitler's Germany would have gotten very far? I think there would certainly have been a civil war - but had the people stood up to the Police State and collectively said "Like hell are we going to build concentration camps!" They probably would never have been built.

Now, it's not fair to play the "what if" game about Nazi Germany. People are too emotive about it, and rightfully so. The thought however still looms, and it can't be ignored completely.

At what point is it OK to stand up and fight? At what point is it OK to argue about a particular action, and with whom? At what point will we, as a society learn to "Just say no" - when it comes to abuse of power? At what point does it change from blind obedience to mindless obedience, to outright enslavement?

When will people learn? Has history not laid itself out plainly for all to see the mistakes of the past? Or are people simply ignoring it, with the "It'll never happen here or to me." mindset?

Goodness gracious, people need to learn that its OK to think for themselves. Its OK to question authority - even right in the moment, and its OK to outright disobey unlawful, unconstitutional or inhumane orders.

1 comment:

here i am said...

I totally agree with you. Sometimes we are happy if we someone tells us exactly what to do, if someone takes control without our worrying about that. Kind of leaving the thought process to someone else.

May be all that they are looking for is someone who will take responsibilty or can be blamed if things go wrong and gradually this becomes a habit.