The concept of obedience is something that is constantly bouncing around in my tiny brain (in my strangely large head). I constantly wonder why the majority of human beings – especially USers – go along with the status quo. Even when I end up liking or agreeing with something that the majority of other people like or agree with, I begin to question myself. The politicians and corporations who run this country generally make decisions based on how much money they can make or how much power they can gain. The wars that we are in right now are not because we are trying to make the world safer, but because there is money to be made. We the people, even though most of us know this at some level, simply go along with things the way we are. We tell ourselves that, even if it’s not great, this is the system we have and we just have to deal with it until it somehow changes.
Arthur Silber has been writing lately of tribalism (I linked to part three, but I seriously recommend checking out parts one and two as well) and it makes things slightly clearer. I’ll start with a quote:
When the person in the inferior position obeys, he does so because of his certain knowledge that if he does not, he will be punished in some form: psychologically, legally, socially, or in some other way. Thus, the primary (although not the sole) motivation that ensures obedience is negative in nature: it is not the promise of a reward (even though certain rewards may be offered), but the assurance that he will not suffer consequences that are painful in varying degrees, i.e., that he will not be punished.
the fear of being punished; I don’t want to focus too much on the fear of being legally punished, but rather the psychological and – especially – social punishments are what interest me. When we first began occupying Iraq and Afghanistan (despite the protests that occurred right before the occupations) the great majority of USers supported what we were doing. Almost every place I went – with the exception of school – people were talking about getting revenge for 9/11 or finally killing Saddam. Anyone who dared speak out against what we were doing was un-American or, if they had brown or black skin, a terrorist. There were plenty of people (I’d say a much higher percentage than most people think) who were – somewhere in their mind or heart – against what was happening, but were too afraid to speak up. When you are part of the majority, life is good- you can sit in a big group and all laugh together, all get angry together, and all mock outsiders. However, when you have the courage to voice an opinion that goes against what the majority think, it is not a fun place to be. Try going into a bar sometime, listening to what a big group of people are talking about, and then disagreeing. Try going to a protest or rally somewhere where you are in the high minority; again, not fun. This is the reason why we have a two party system; we are trained so well to obey and go along with what the majority thinks that not many people can handle the isolation that comes with supporting a non-mainstream politician or going against a bi-partisan bill. While George W Bush was president, I heard many people calling his supporters sheeps; he was a monster, a war criminal, and a liar and yet these people mindlessly followed him. However, most of the people who were mocking the Bushites are now doing the exact same thing for Obama.
I don’t know how we can reverse this trend of obedience that is killing the once greatest country in the world. As hippie as this sounds; people need to get in touch with their hearts, their Truth, and then follow it. People need to take time to learn; don’t just read the headline that tells you whether the stimulus plan is good or bad- read the whole article, read articles with different opinions, study the past, and then make your own decision. If your decision is off the wall or different than the mainstream, who cares? If you hear arguments by friends, family, and pundits as to why torture is a necessary evil, yet you know in your heart that it just doesn’t feel right, then speak out against it. If you drive past a rally, or are having lunch at a restaurant and see a band of protestors walk by and you want to join them- JOIN THEM. Everything good that has happened in this country has started with a few people refusing to be obedient and, instead of following laws, following their hearts. We are in two never-ending wars, we are occupying dozens of other countries (some directly some not so much), our economy is falling apart, the majority of the things we buy are made by exploiting other people or entire cultures, we are destroying the earth for our offspring- now is the time to speak out. Do you see the wave coming? Do you feel the ground rumbling? Do you hear people starting to get angry? I do.