Obedience, The Silent Killer
Are you a good person…or a good dog?
For many, doing what you’re told means that you’re doing the “right” thing, the “good” thing, or, at least, the safe thing. Disobeying, then, or going against the grain, and can be seen as doing the “wrong’ thing, the “bad” thing—or just plain terrify-ing.
So, then, does this mean that disobedience makes you a “bad dog”? Well, if it does, I have news for you. Your name ain’t Fido.
Think about it: what does doing what you’re told–without question–really say about you?
What if it says you’re incapable of thinking for yourself? Or that you would rather conform to the status quo than take a stand for something you truly believe in? –And here I’m talking about courageously speaking up, not being an asshat and arguing with anyone and everyone you meet.
Hey, I get it, it’s easier to be part of the majority–even if you don’t necessarily agree with them–than it is to be in the minority. The majority offers a sense of satisfaction and contentment that only comes with knowing others feel the same as you.
And I’ll admit when we were kids, being obedient and doing what we were told came with its share of perks, too: allowance money, trips to the ice cream store, not being grounded for the weekend of the Metallica concert.
Basically, we’ve all been trained to obey for rewards. Just like when you were a kid doing your chores to get the triple scoop of Ben and Jerry’s. Only now the reward is approval. Approval from the authority figure that gave you the order, and approval from the others that have already given in and given up.
But this whole “obedience=treats” mentality can have detrimental consequences to our very freedoms and true happiness. This herd mentality can lead to thoughts and actions that are not consistent with your actual beliefs, that’s just fucked up.
Think about it: dogs obey for treats. And sure, most of them are happy, but they spend a lot of their lives on a leash, or (worse) a chain, and a collar (sometimes even a muzzle!)—not to mention as totally dependent on others to provide them a life that, depending on the type of person who adopts them, can vary dramatically in terms of quality.
Yet dogs never complain about their circumstances. They just accept it all. And they never question.
Every time you unquestionably agree with and perpetuate someone else’s beliefs or opinions you sacrifice your own greatness. You give up your right to think and act for yourself. And you do it with a smile on your face because it’s less risky to be a part of the pack than to be a lone wolf.
Stop being a yes-man (or yes-woman or yes-person) and start being a why-person. Start questioning everything. Questioning something doesn’t mean you disagree with it. On the contrary, it allows you to study it from different angles and to better decide whether that something is the right move for you. It’s amazing how eye-opening and empowering the simple act of asking ‘why?’ can be.
Obedience without examination is the silent killer of dreams. Your dreams to be exact. This killer lurks in the shadows like the bogeyman hiding under your bed or in your closet while you lie sleeping at night. Well, it’s time to throw a high-powered flashlight beam in his face.
Blind obedience—and choosing to remain in the dark about the truth–can also literally kill, as proven by the Milgram Experiments of the early 60s. They were a series of psychological tests carried out by Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University. Milgram wanted to find out to what extent everyday people would obey orders at the expense of another person’s pain.
His conclusion? Ordinary people were likely to follow orders given by an authority figure, to an overwhelming degree–even to the extent of killing an innocent human being. Look it up! It’s some heavy shit. These people didn’t question what they were being asked to do. They just trusted the person in authority to know best.
That’s because, “The obedient always think about themselves as virtuous, rather than cowardly,” as counterculture figure, author, and former Playboy magazine editor Robert Anton Wilson once said. And I can see why. I mean, when you’re not rocking the boat, you’re sailing along with like-minded others building a sense camaraderie and striving towards maintaining a level of comfort you don’t want disturbed. But then, the next thing you know, you’re with those like-minds, waiting in line for your chance to pour yourself a cold one from a big pitcher of Kool-Aid.
So the next time you find yourself blindly obeying like some doomed citizen straight outta Jonestown, take a moment to stop and ask yourself. “Why am I doing this?” Is it for the approval of someone in power? Is to be a part of a community? To look good to others? To somehow prove that I am a good person?” then ask yourself, “Is this really what I want to do?”
If the answer is “no” then turn around and haul your ass outta there. Forget that “good dog” shit. Break from the pack. Let out a howl like the free wolf you are and go find yourself a freshwater stream somewhere. Believe me, freedom tastes a lot better than cyanide-laced fruit punch.
Don’t forget to grab my new book!