Table of Contents
Obedience to authority refers to how people adhere to rules and regulations. People tend to obey people in authority blindly just because of their superior positions. However, this should not be the case, and every man makes decisions as to what is right or wrong. This paper aims at showing how excess obedience prevents people from expressing their authentic personality. Obedience is an essential element in the society; however, some people follow it blindly without considering the implication of this. Obedience is the act of acting and behaving in a manner compliant with required expectations from someone in authority. It refers to the act of being submissive with respect to another person who is above us. Simply put it is following orders given without complaining or asking questions. Obedience is paramount in the society, but it should be exercised with caution and not followed blindly.
An outstanding example lies in Martin Luther King Jr, the civil rights leader in the United States of America. Martin Luther refused to comply by some of the rules that got set up by the government, and this landed him in Birmingham jail. This was in 26th April, 1963. He attributed his disobedience to the fact that he was not in terms with the set laws as he felt they marginalized the black people and promoted the evil vice of racism in the society, it is from here that he finally wrote his letter giving his reasons for civil disobedience. He further went on to chastise the white people who in his opinion valued order in their society rather than justice. According to him, he considered a law that was unjust as equivalent to having no law at all. He challenged the extent to which people are willing to follow laws blindly without considering the repercussions of that law. Moreover, it had the words that implied once justice gets delayed; it is as close as denied. Up until the time of his death, Martin Luther King Jr opposed radicalization and violence against the black community. This was civil disobedience on his part, but that did not matte because; he followed his moral compass and did what he assumed to be the right thing to do at the time.
It should also be noted that blind obedience of unlawful orders is an element of today’s world. Every day we witness people we know making the mistake of obeying the wrong people. As a result, hence ending up doing illegal things that have substantial negative consequences that they live paying for all their lives. For example, an employee may be ordered to corrupt the account books by his superiors. If the employees obey blindly, they prove their decayed morals and in the long run they may end up losing their job or entangle in a corruption scandal. On the other hand, Solomon Asch in his book “Opinions and Social Pressure “tries to analyze how individuals get easily influenced by others close to them. According to the author, Solomon Asch, people often get misled by people whose authority they value. Solomon in his experiment aimed at showing the weakness of mankind in a mass society, when he gets an opposing opinion. He showed how a person will conform to what the majority in society want irrespective of whether or not it goes against their moral values. In his book, Solomon states that social influences shape how people behave, their beliefs and judgments. According to him, everyone get shaped to some extent by the society, and he gives the example of a child who acquires their principles in life from the society. Also, children learn their values mostly from their parents, especially their mothers.
According to Stanley Milgram, obedience is basic in social life. He states that obedience is a basic necessity in any form of communal living, and everyone must be answerable to someone in authority. However, he does not dispute the fact that obedience sometimes has its perils, and it is not always wise to obey blindly. He urges people not to be afraid of questioning an order if they feel that it goes against their beliefs as individuals. He conducts tests to determine the cause of the conflict that exists between obedience and authority and an individual’s personal conscience. However, some conservative philosophers do not agree with this as in their opinion the fabric of society would be destroyed if the people disobeyed the rules that get set to guide them. This would result in chaos as there would be no coordination of people’s actions. As a result, nothing would function normally, and the entire community would suffer (Milgram 71).
According to Monsieur Renaissance, being disobedient is not only a psychological problem but it is also a moral problem that can only be countered by reviewing someone’s morality and teaching them new and constructive values that will make them better people. This is because a morally upright person will always tend to do the right thing with respect to his morals and ethics. They will rarely be disobedient, and they will always work towards the good of the society. Obedience has been in existence for many years, and it dates back to the biblical era. It can be traced back to the time God used his prophets to persuade the Hebrews to obey Gods commandments and obedient at all times. When the Hebrews disobeyed Gods commands, they faced numerous troubles as punishment for their disobedience. For example, when the Israelites were in the desert after leaving Egypt, those who played any part in creating the golden calf to replace God when Moses was up in the mountain got killed. Therefore, obedience as a virtue should not be viewed as a new thing in the society and since time in memorial, those who failed to obey got punished by their superiors.
Milgram, on the other hand, he conducted an experiment where he tried to determine the level of obedience in his subjects for the experiment. Here, he hired an actor to act as a student, and then he got selected individuals to play the role of the teacher. According to the experiment, the subjects acting as teachers asked the student questions, and when he failed to answer correctly or refused to answer entirely, they were to electrocute the student and force them into submission by constantly increasing the voltage to get their way. The students cum actor, on the other hand, screamed in agony when electrocuted and even beg the teachers to stop. Towards the end, the subjects offered options to stop and disobey. Some claimed that they were simply obeying their instructors by doing as told while others argued that they obeyed because the student was responsible for the pain as he was the one giving the wrong answers so according to them, they deserved the punishment. This experiment got organized and done in order to demonstrate how blinndly some people followed instructions from their superiors and how the fear of punishment affects the obedience of people (Cantalamessa 92).
This obedience to authority experiment was conducted in different scenarios. For example, when the learner expressed discomfort at 150 volts and begged that the experiment end, the teacher would be reminded that they had to go on with the experiment as per the instructions of the experiment. In this scenario, the percentage of those who were willing to go on and administer the maximum voltage of 450 volts reasonably dropped to 62.5%. When the same experiment got repeated and conducted in an office building rather than a prestigious laboratory like in the first scenario, the percentage of those people who were willing to administer the maximum 450 volts on the student dropped to 47.5 %. In the scenario, where the teacher had physically to place the students hand on the shocker to administer shock, the percentage of those still willing to go through with it dropped to 30%. When the scenario got changed again, and this time the experimenter was communicating through the telephone line rather than being personally present in the room to urge the teacher to continue, the percentage dropped to 20.5%. Finally, when the experimenter allowed the teacher to nominate the shock level they would administer themselves, the percentage of those subjects who were more than willing to continue and administer the shock to the very end of the scale dropped to 2.5%. “Stark authority got pitted against the subjects. (Milgram 64).
This paper tries to show how wrong it is to allow others to dictate what is right or wrong. It urges people to be firm on principles and, just like Martin Luther King Jr, they should careful not be to be labeled as outlaws so long as their actions are right and moral. People should, therefore, take him as a role model and follow in his footsteps. Martin Luther King Jr proved to Americans and the whole world in general that not all that glitters are gold. This means that not everyone can lead others and not all leaders are excellent leaders. Therefore, people must exercise caution in selecting the leaders, and they must be willing to obey them. This probably reflects to the countries politics, where it is the democratic right of every person to elect the leaders they see fit to represent them in the National Assembly. We must choose wisely to avoid future inconveniences. In addition to this, people should take time to choosing role models because their actions should be guiding them and if they are immoral the same will be adopted by their followers.
However, this should not be viewed as a call for people to be rebellious rather it is a wake up call that everyone must follow their beliefs so long as they are morality and ethical accepted by society. Despite the fact that obedience is paramount to Godliness, we should be wise in selecting who is worth obeying and who is not. Having a corrupt and dishonest leader means that his decisions will also mirror his villainous attributes. Those who choose to obey him are more likely behave immorally and do morally crooked things. In summary, the main thing the article emphasizes on is that we should choose leaders wisely. People who get proved to be upright in society to avoid leaders who make us obey unethical rules. Therefore, the crime of obedience can be avoided only if people unite and chose their leaders wisely.