I recently made a post on Facebook about this same topic hoping to get the thoughts of hundreds of people but I failed. Instead, as of now (14 hours after the Facebook post) it only has 20 likes and 4 comments.
Commenters were my mom, one of my aunts and two friends of mine. 2 of them agreed, 1 disagreed and 1 (my mom) said only if it’s possible to obey.
Before I share my thoughts on this, let me give you a short background. I recently told one of my children this very same thing – that obedience is non-negotiable – and I was pertaining to them (kids) obeying us (parents). Was I being autocratic? Not really. I merely wanted my children to understand what obedience is all about.
One other thing before I continue as I’d like to touch on what my mom said. She said, “If not possible, disagree.” That of course is true, not just because she’s my mom but simply because it’s impractical to obey something that is not possible to obey. If someone commands you to poop gold, then you simply say you can’t and anyone reasonable enough should understand you.
Then of course there’s the question of who’s making the command. Since this entire post stemmed from what I tell my children, let’s just make it clear that the command is coming from someone who has authority over you.
Now, everything else that follows is on the precept that what’s being commanded you is possible to obey and that it’s coming from authority.
Should you negotiate obedience? My answer is simply NO. Anyone who says otherwise probably do not understand what obedience means. A quick Google search gives us the following definition.
compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another’s authority
Let’s talk about government for a while. If the government says “NO SMOKING IN PUBLIC PLACES” then you simply should not smoke in public places – no but’s no if’s. If you disobey, you will be penalized.
But then that’s obvious and easy to follow. What if the government tells you that YOU MUST NOT PRACTICE FREEDOM OF SPEECH – do you obey? It really is on you whether you will follow or not but nonetheless obedience remains non-negotiable. If you obey, then you should be fine with the government. If you disobey then of course the government will penalize you for it.
While obedience is non-negotiable nobody can stop you from disobeying at which point you’ll be called DISOBEDIENT.
What about in parent-child relationships? Are children allowed to negotiate their obedience. To be clear, here’s an example of “negotiating obedience”.
Dad: Eat your vegetables.
Son: I will eat my vegetables only if you allow me to watch TV ’til midnight.
There’s no problem yet at this point. The last word of course is Dad’s. If he says yes, then fine. If he says, no then his son as to obey. Now, let’s continue the discussion.
Son: (throws tantrums)
This is where the problem arises. For some reason people under authority tend to think that if their “requests” are not met then they’re being oppressed by the authority above them whether it’s the government, parents, teachers, etc.
Hierarchy of Authority
Now, what if you’re told to “kill” someone. If you’re a hired killer then no problem but well I guess most of you readers out there are not. Should you still obey? Enter the hierarchy of authority. Let’s say your hierarchy of authority is as follows:
The rule is simple – submit to higher authority. If the government tells you to kill, you then check if your parents will allow you to do so. If they say NO, then stop. If they say otherwise, then check with God. Does God allow you to kill?
A command made by a lower authority should only be obeyed IF no higher authority says No.
Now, I think that every person must have his own personal hierarchy of authorities to follow. My list is different from yours. You have full control over this list but I suggest that you stay firm with your hierarchy and only modify it after much meditation and self-deliberation.
Now here’s the best part – you can always choose to leave. Does your work tell you to do things that are in conflict with your hierarchy of authority? Is it bugging you? Then leave. This way you won’t end up being disobedient. It can be hard in certain cases, say the government because it can mean leaving your country.
If you’re non-religious, you can opt-out of anything. If you’re religious then you most likely can’t opt-out of family and God both of which are divinely mandated.
In the end, Obedience remains non-negotiable. Either you obey or disobey. You follow or you rebel. If you have a clear hierarchy of authority to follow then good. If you don’t then you must start thinking about it as it’ll make decision-making and life in general easier for you.
You’re still in full control but always remember the consequences of your actions. If you don’t want to obey that one authority above you then leave if possible. If not, then be creative and work things out.
Tip… Don’t Be a Baby. Tantrums and complaining are for babies. The wise find the means to do what they want without disobeying. If you’re wise enough then you know what I mean.
I hope I explained things well. This blog post ain’t enough to express my thoughts but I hope I triggered your mind into thinking. So, What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.