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Where human beings interact, there is a need for some exercise of obedience to authority. Human interaction and psychology offers freedom of opinion and free thoughts. Whenever there is no obedience to authority, anarchy always develops a situation which finally leads to chaos. In every society, there are social rules and norms that human beings should follow. Some of them are so obvious that there are no reasons to question them but only to follow. Almost every person agrees that in order to have a proper and functioning society there must be rules and norms and t people must be obedient to some authority (Monroe & Reeder 28). This helps to make sure that the group of people remains true to the cause. It also holds the group together for having an ability to function properly.
Although this is the case, obedience to authority may be taken to higher levels for forcing to act unethically and cause harm to others. Data across different divisions have indicated that extreme obedience to authority has been happening in almost every social settings and this has a negative impact on people. They have always found themselves in intra conflict between compliance with authority and holding to their private and/or individualistic views (Behrens & Rosen 5). The results of the study show us that although obedience to authority is needed, extreme cases have always led to harm to others.
Stanley Milgram’s psychological research on common people and obedience to authority gives us a clear picture of the phenomenon. According to Nicholson, Milgram’s experiment that included volunteers who were supposed to ask questions and apply voltage for every question that was answered correct showed that disobedience might be beneficial in some cases (Nicholson 242). This case indicates that most people are ready to obey powerful authority rather than justice and follow their own views. The study also concluded that obedience is a behavior that is deeply rooted in human beings. This shows that it, in some extreme cases, forces one to act in ways that harm others. It shows that obdience as a behavior sometimes overrides people’s sympathy to people. A certain degree of disobedience has been found to have advantages over extreme obedience to authority. Biblical story of human beings indicates that human race originated from Adam and Eve’s disobedience act which led them to eat the fruit which God had forbad eating.
Although there must be people in the society who hold power and this power should be obeyed, some cautions should be taken and people should not extremely obey to those who have the authority because cases such as the Holocaust occurred due to extreme obedience to authority. Many massacre and atrocities have also been witnessed around the world due to the latter. Another experiment that was carried out to understand the issue of obedience to authority indicates that people can be changed easily and at a very short period of time due to authority and extreme obedience to power (Fromm 4). The experiment involved volunteers who were to act as prison guards while others as prisoners. They had to follow orders and the experiment lasted many days. This happened because those who were acting as guards went ahead to act as real prison guards and those who volunteered as prisoners started showing extreme obedience to authority.
From this point of view, the authority may abuse such behavior. This may make people feel that they are obliged to obey and do what those who hold such authority want them to do. This view indicates that people can easily become slaves to others. This form of psychological alignment can lead to slavery and other social misconducts. Such view should make people to believe that all obedience is good and all disobedience is bad. They should be able to draw clear lines on what to obey and what to disobey while understanding that one act of obedience leads to another act of disobedience. This social principle concludes that when one fully obeys authority, he or she becomes a slave to those in power and when they fully disobey, they become rebels.
The issue of obedience to authority also leads to the argument that those who kill civilians and those who torture prisoners are not psychopaths but rather normal people following orders. In other cases, people have been forced to obey authority as a result of fear. In most cases, robbery cases are successful due to fright instilled in people which forces them to obey whatever they are told to avoid consequences that may come as a result of disobedience to the authority. Consequently, it is normal for people to say that they will disobey an act that goes against their human belief. It is has become a norm that when people find themselves in such situations, they follow orders and obey what they ought to have disobeyed. As practice shows, some people have become successful through disobedience to authority.
Scientists, martyrs, and activists have become global motivators for noble courses through disobedience to authority. As Russell noted, they still stand to their beliefs, which lead to suffering and later success of whatever they fight for (3). An interesting point of view is that courage can lead to disobedience while fear always leads to obedience to authority. Surprisingly, those who are courageous enough to hold to their grounds become victims of torture and those who are fearful become torturers. This phenomenon and psychological conditioning has enabled some people to take advantage of others. When people with authority decide to exercise and abuse the power through instilling fear to others, the nation become submissive not because it wants to but because it fears the repercussions of not obeying such authorities.
In conclusion, obedience to authority may be necessary for cohesiveness to be present in the society. Although authority is an important thing that holds groups together, people should be open and careful of what they do with it. Failure to be aware of oneself and not being courageous to be disobedient may make them to become slaves and be used by others. As it was mentioned, in some circumstances, obedience in not always a good thing and disobedience is not always a bad thing. People should therefore study situations before deciding what to do.
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