The Dangers Of Blind Obedience : An Individuals Perspective
“Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.” – Stanley Milligram
How obedient are you to authority figures?
You might want to say “what a controversial title” isn’t it. But before we delve into the subject matter of our discussion lets try and look at the definition of obedience. From the Webster’s collegiate dictionary, obedience is defined as being submissive to the restraint or command of authority; willing to obey. This goes forth to show that there are parties involved in the process, one is an authority which seeks to influence a subject who is compelled to obey the said authority. Then the other party being the subject has to do everything to be submissive to the wimps and caprices of the one in authority. Now when this scenery comes to play there is no doubt that there are circumstances that will bring about conflict in the process of a party trying to dominate with his or her authority on the subject.
Now that we have know what obedience is, lets us look at the definition of being blind; there is no one single definition of blind; it means not having vision of sight, unable to judge conscientiously, without discernment, acting without sense of reasoning to mention a few.
If we combine the two words the blind obedience, we shall now see that when you act or obey without sense of reasoning , judgment, discernment and vision it is very dangerous, hence the subject, the dangers of blind obedience will definitely come to play
A man named Stanley Milligram investigated the consequences of blind obedience
A psychologist named Stanley Milligrim did some interesting testing on obedeince to indentify how easily people would submit to an authority figure. The experiments on obedience where conducted between two parties. One person would act as an authority figure and supervise a person who who incrementally indure electroshock on the basis of suggestion which evovled into coercion. In simpler terms one person would instruct someone else to start with a little electroshock and then suggest or threaten them that it was necessary that they keep induring more and more electroshock during the duration of the experiement. The subject was only freed after they resisted four verbal instructions from the authority figure.
- Please continue.
- The experiment requires that you continue.
- It is absolutely essential that you continue.
- You have no other choice, you must go on.
Now Stanley Miligrims experiements were definitely a unique idea but they are not set in stone. It is discovered that there are divergent views , and although he did experiment on several occasion and arrived at some theories or beliefs. It is still inconclusive and not totally wholesome on a particular condition, or situation at any point in time. There is some criticism in the sense that the experiment was carried out and discoveries show that there is an undue influence on the people (the subjects) by the authority.
One of the factors discovered is coercion, the series of electric -shocks received means that people are sometimes deprived of their freedom . Not allowing people to express their rights and freedom of expression. This seems contrary to the modern day civilization as would have expected. The experiment was mostly based on instructional contact and communication. What about a situation where we have propounded laws and these laws were meant to be obeyed in to have orderliness in the society. Now when the authority make those laws to protect you and your well being off course you be willing to place their trust in them to make such laws. This seems The idea of we have today democracy operates on the basis of social contract theory, that the people being the subject willingly give their consent to be ruled by the sovereign (those in authority) and that is the whole essence of democracy lies in the majority which can become malicious when blinded by a malicious leader. Therefore the dangers of blind obedience would come to play in this circumstance even when people are giving consent to a particular party they feel is helping their country. The authority per adventure could turn out to be unjust, tyrannical, despotic, dictating to the people, and if the people fail to see their evil inclination yet refuse to vote such wicked and malicious authority out of power.
Stanley Milligrams experiments can be displayed in military, autocracy, kingship and tyrannical authorities kind of government, even when it comes to a democratic settings the majority can still use their power in numbers to make coercive decisons through a particular party leader.
Today its quite very dangerous to subject once self to blind obedience. There are so many instances where you would respond and obey an authority blindly because questioning dogma as become more and more ridiculed. For instance, even when have an authority that is considered legitimate, because not all authorities are legitimate, if a democratically elected government decides they will violate constituion laws and prey on individual rights, they tend to subvert the people of that particular country by assuring them they are performing actions in their best interest. Even though democracy is considered by the majority (isn’t that funny) to be the fairest system today it can easily be converted to a totalitarian regime which will undermine individuals. It is the individuals responsibility to resist authority not the group.
Other instances is the deployment of child soldiers in war turned countries, genocide killing of people, those who carry out these orders are seriously committing war crimes which is punishable at the International Court of justice, yet such crimes are committed by some people who are in position of authority, for example the trial of Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia who was tried and found guilty of war crimes mentioned above in the International Court of Justice, the youngsters (child soldiers) were being compelled to obey by involving and actively participating in the acts of war directed by those who are in power perpetrating these acts, these young people ended up obeying without conscientiously having eyes to see that what they where doing was wrong, hence the dangers of blind obedience does exist when you are compelled to do what is not right and you are just too weak or not strong enough to say no.
In Stanley Milligrams experiments, the learner always undergoes stress when ever he or she is compelled to obey and when he or she does not obey he receives a shock, the experiment shows only a select few incline to disobey. We cannot say is that the experiment was totally reliable however, it may provide some insight into human behavior under stressful situations were an athuority figure is malicious. the people of Nazi Germany are often an example. We are told that those who perpetrate these acts are actually accepting what they are doing in small increments like electric shocks except in th. That is what they were meant to believe and they accepted and pursued the course so vigorously and unconscientiously, without considering the dangers and the erroneousness of their actions.
Blind Obedience In A Work Place Environment
The scenario in a work place environment is very intriguing, one of the issues to consider in this regard is those in authority in such an organization ordering an employee to do what is not right. For instance you know that dumping industrial waste is against the law, yet you are giving a specific task to go ahead and dump that toxic waste in a nearby river where it will destroy the aquatic life or even lives of those who are residence and do carry out fishing in the river. Would you say no? And the consequence is lose your job, or you quit, and if you say anything about it to anyone you might lose your life or your family being threatened. These are one example of blind obedience. Your actions and that of the person ordering you will definitely lead to loss of lives of the aquatic life and those who come in contact with the toxic waste around the river area.
Sometimes, when we take up employment, on the course of work, you may not be satisfied or happy with the working conditions or targets you are being compelled to meet. Thereby the only option that may be available is for you to resign. Most especially when it is reasonably foreseeable that such targets cannot be met, you simply chose to resign. It is not for you to be blindly obedient. But once you realize that this thing cannot be done the way you envisage the, it is inevitable that things will have to change, and you will agree that the only that is constant in life is change.
Talking about blind obedience, we observe a sharp increase in the activities of terrorist all over the world especially in the middle east, what must have prompted these sharp increase, you may ask, you discover that so many young people are being brain washed, enticed and wrongly inculcated to participate in the acts of terrorism with coercion forcing them to accept a faith which is propagated wrongly. Now this is another form of restraint, command and mindset control which leads to blind obedient. A terrorist for instant so much believes in what he does, in his own mindset, he believes what he is doing is the best alas he is actually perpetrating evil by killing innocent people, and most times it is not the leaders of such group that are doing the destroying it is those whose conscience have been so dominated that they are so blind that they cannot see the wrong in what they do.