eXTReMe Tracker WARNING: The opinions expressed and linked to in this blog are not necessarily mine (anymore).

My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Thursday, December 9

Authority and Morality

I have what I think might be a slightly irrational fear of authority. It's not just a fear of security personnel or people in positions of socially recognizable power. In fact, I can be oblivious to that at times. I think what commands this "fear" is a certain personality - the authoritarian. The one who is confident, in charge, and I can't see anything wrong with what they're saying.

As a child, I tended to view most adults as authority. I figured even if they were mistaken sometimes, they had more experience and knowledge of the world than I, and I had much to learn from them. At some point, I began to notice that some adults seemed to have a set of rules they followed. They could be quite wrong (in my opinion) about something, but they were predictable in a way. Some adults just did whatever they felt like. Sometimes they stated or yelled about rules, but they didn't follow any that I could recognize. They were unpredictable, dangerous, and, I thought, immoral.

I respected a person who, although fallible, consistently did what they said they were going to do. If I acted in a way that conflicted with what they said was good, I could expect problems with them. If I didn't, I could expect that they'd leave me alone or even get along well with me. This didn't make being forced to do certain things any more pleasant, but I think I found it comforting to know clearly what to expect.

As a child, if I'd been asked, I would have said that I preferred to be around the former type of person. The ones who were predictable.

Since then, I'd come to think a bit differently. Being consistent is no good if the person is consistently bad. An inconsistent person may well be working very hard at changing their ideas to better ones. They may be having difficulty working out how to act on these new ideas and make lots of mistakes. In other words, confidence and consistency does not mean a person is better or good at all. Unfortunately, if I relied on my "instincts", I'd tend to be persuaded by a person who is confident over one who is not. Fortunately, I try to look at arguments based on their reasonablness - not who presented them or how they were presented. Still, when it comes down to issues I'm unsure about, it seems like I still would tend to think the confident person was right.

I have a lot more thoughts about this I'll probably post on later. They're not very organized, but I'm trying to let go of the idea that posts or thoughts have to be (or even can be) perfect.

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