Obedience

The view of obedience, we view it as good. It’s good to obey your parents; it’s good to obey the law; it’s good to obey your teacher, etcetera. Obedience and conformity. We are meant to conform to some extent but when is that conformity going too far?

Prof. Stanley Milgram of Harvard University conducted an experiment about the nature of authority and obedience. In his research, he found an interesting turn of events. As part of the experiment he would have individuals come in and participate as a teacher role. Once accepting their role as teacher and the learner (a secret [inside]volunteer) would then go in another room attached to a machine that would send out an electrical shock to the learner. (No shock was actually administered to the learner.) Yet it was the teacher’s responsibility to shock the learner whenever an inappropriate response to the question was given (IE: Wrong answer, no answer). They couldn’t see the learner, but hear him cry out after a few shocks. The teacher was to continue to administer shocks at higher and higher voltage each time, the meter going as far as 450 volts. The turn of events was, Milgram entered into the tests believing he would have trouble finding anyone to follow through with the shocks to the end. But it turned out opposite. Roughly 60% of the participant “Teachers” went all the way to the end. And this was way back in the 1960’s.

Do you believe in humanity enough to think this has changed for the better? Or worse? The participants varied by around 30%. But none ever went to check on the “victim”. And with most going all the way to the end. What does this say about us? That we feel obligated or bound to conform to the will of authority. In-so we bind our own morality and judgement to those we view with authority. Some don’t. I myself have struggled through my life because of a lack of this. We have built our work-places, our schools, our government, our laws, our homes. With this principle of obedience to authority. It has merit to obey, but when does the obedience become the chains that bind?

I believe it shouldn’t ever bind. I believe whenever prosed with an option, always try to remember you have a choice. If you don’t see an alternative. Then look for one, make one, or simply understand it may just be an ultimatum. But even in an ultimatum you have a choice. It’s just usually the latter isn’t preferred. But there is still choices. I can’t stress the importance that it is to choose. You not only get to make up your own choice, but you carry the huge responsibilities that come with them. Choose to drink and drive? You get the responsibility of the choice. No matter if you expected them or not. (IE: DUI, Accident, etc.) Your choices have responsibilities but then as Milgram was inclined to believe; the essence of obedience consists in the fact that a person comes to view themselves as the instrument for carrying out another’s wishes, and they therefore no longer see themselves as responsible for their actions. Once this critical shift of viewpoint has occurred in the person, all of the essential features of obedience follow.

In other words he says that once a person settles into the rolls of authority, and obedience, their inclinations of responsibility of their actions shifts away from themselves, and they are now a tool used to carry out the will of that authority (IE: God, Law, Parent, etc.). But once the responsibilities shift, then the conforming nature of obedience will set in, and they become more obedient by doing so. American’s are quickly and easily distracted by sports, and media. The silent obedience has continued as people are working harder and longer trying to afford their lives. While so very few slip through the cracks and become a multi-millionaire, or Billionaire. Those who already have the money simply continue to perpetuate a distance (emotionally, and physically) from those who don’t. Yet as silent obedience continues to propel them further and further into problems. The question reigns inside some minds, “when is enough, enough? When to make a stand?” Well, it may be already too late, it may be past a point of no return. Any revolution would be snuffed out, or drawn out to be a struggle and hardship for many involved, or not.

Yet here’s the kicker. I may be wrong, I may just be one of the crazy ones spouting nonsense, but then who is the one that is conforming? Obeying? Possibly blindly. I am not saying to disobey, or to not conform. Merely mentioning that you always have a choice. And even if you don’t see that you are responsible for them because, “it’s the law, the police told me to, the authority figure made me, I was forced.” It is you, who bares the responsibility of your actions. Whether you were told to, or not, whether you believe you are, or not. You will bear the responsibility of your choices. Choose well, friends, choose well.

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