At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Obedience: Both Thoughtful and Not

This week in Ethics class, we've covered the fifth commandment: "Honor your father and your mother", which has extended application to honoring all authority. I've discussed the distinction between honor and respect [honor is automatic, based on position; respect is earned, based on character exhibited in exercise of one's authority], and why it is important to honor the authorities in our lives.

One other item we covered was "What happens when authority goes toxic?" In short, what if you were living in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s? How do you minimally honor a regime you can't respect? What of a young person whose parent sexually molests and abuses them? If respect is out the window, how does one honor the parent? 

These are tough questions, and we tackled them all. Then I showed a video clip toward the end of class to point out that as humans, we have something in our core that leans toward following someone or something. No matter how much leadership in life we take on, we all do some following of direction. But we are given minds to use, minds that can ask "Is the path I'm following the right one, a good one, a noble one."

To that end, I showed them a replica of the Milgram Experiment. To say it was eye-opening is putting it mildly. I invite you to watch it yourself and consider what it says about our human behavior.

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