Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Obedience, Duty, Loyalty

In case you haven't picked up on it over my past few posts, I'm not a fan of the idea of obedience. As Utah Phillips sang, "I will not obey." He also sang, "I was always willing to agree." I think this is the proper and natural stance of human beings in the world.

As I'm traveling around Australia, I've been talking about the concept of obedience. It's one that for many is an "of course" when it comes to children. Of course, children must learn to obey adults. Of course, they must learn to mind their elders. Of course, it is the duty of children to do as they're told.

The problem is that we all know that the things that we learn in childhood are the things we know as adults. And in adulthood, obedience is a dangerous thing. Obedient people are those who look to others to do their thinking for them, and because they don't think for themselves they are more easily lead astray. Every atrocity ever committed on the face of this planet was done by people who were simply following orders, obeying, doing their duty, being loyal.

I usually ask the people who have come out to hear me speak if they know any obedient adults. The answer is usually "no." But I think that's because in adulthood we call it "duty" or "loyalty," fine sounding attributes that hide the potential for doing the most awful things. Most often we think of soldiers or even police officers, but there are plenty of businesspeople out there committing heinous acts out of loyalty to their "stock holders," or lawyers who cause greater injustice in the name "doing my duty to my client." And naturally, we all know adults who insist upon the obedience of others, those authoritarian "daddy" types who, I'm certain, were expected to obey when they were young and are now turning the tables because that's the only world they know: someone must be obeyed and now it's their turn.

From where I sit, obedient people, or those who insist upon obedience, are broken people, humans who have never learned the lessons of equity, cooperation, and agreement that we seek to foster at the Woodland Park Cooperative School.

I assure you that whenever you hear a call for obedience, duty or loyalty you are being asked to do something that is not in the best interest of you or others. Say to them, "I will not obey, but I (am) always willing to agree," then listen and work with all your integrity to come to that agreement.

"Agreement is sacred." I've shared this before and I'll probably share it again

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