The Scout Law Revisited: Obedient

A Scout is taught to obey his superiors, whether it is a teacher, pack leader, parent, priest, or principal. He is faithful to and obeys the laws of his community and country. If he feels rules and orders are illegal or immoral, he seeks to make changes in a productive and positive way.

Ok, this is tough one. It’s always been challenging for me, at least in part. When you’re young, it’s simple: You obey those who are your parents, your caretakers, or your superiors. You are physically and emotionally dependent on adults around you, and your trust is totally invested in those adults to help you function and keep you safe. The younger you are, the more people it seems you need to obey. As we get older, that line becomes more blurred, and there is a whole different groups of people we need to be obedient to. You will get constant pressure to obey people who you may not even respect, or like.

But that’s the difference between obedience and admiration. The two have almost no link to each other. As an adult, you will constantly be reminded that you should obey this law, or accept that way of thinking, or be obedient to certain people who you may or may not respect or admire. It becomes very hard to find your place, at times. You will be subject to laws you don’t agree with. You will have to follow orders you believe to be wrong. You will have bosses and superiors you know are inferior and ineffective. This is the way the world works, and it will never be any different.

We all have choices, of course. That’s the good news. You can choose to ignore or defy any laws or leader you choose. Your defiance, however, doesn’t affect the possible consequences of your actions. You have to be prepared to deal with the consequences, should you choose to be defiant. On the other hand, however, my whole country exists today as a result of being defiant and refusing to be passively compliant and obedient. If citizens 200+ years ago chose to be strictly obedient, history would be considerably different.

So there’s a balancing act, I think. Not every law, lawmaker, or governing body will be perfect, or even likable. There will be times when despite your greatest efforts, you have leaders and other authority figures who you don’t agree with, don’t respect, and whom you reject. But but there’s something I’ve learned in half a lifetime, and when it hits you, it makes a lot of sense:

It’s not always about you.

That’s it. That’s the whole of it. Laws and leaders are put into place to govern the collective, not the individual. Whether you agree or not is irrelevant. There will always be leaders and laws you disagree with. Obedience to the system means support and belief in the system to which we voluntarily belong. If you are part of a group, job or organization you don’t care for, remove yourself. If it’s something you can’t remove yourself from, fight back in a positive and proactive way.

So often today I sit back and shake my head at what I read online, especially in social media. Most of what I read is people trying to give voice to their frustrations in our leaders and laws. Instead of seeing any proposed solutions or any legitimate resistance, I just see the same stale and monotonous statements, usually in the form of a meme or quote that has been copied/retweeted/regurgitated from other sources. Very rarely do I see people’s true thoughts and feelings explained, and even less often do I see a proposed solution to a problem.

Obedience does not signify that we are weak. To the contrary, it showcases our strength by our belief in unity and order. Without unity and order, we will not survive. Talk to any 1%er group, or any “outlaw” organization and they will tell you the same. They may not recognize or abide by your laws or leaders, but they have their own. They practice obedience because they know it is necessary to survive. This is what will make us strong and impenetrable.

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