By: Angus Finlayson
I’ve always thought I’ve had a problem with authority the whole of my life, and it’s not until fairly recently I fully understood this issue.
I no longer look at it as me having a problem with authority, I now see it for what it is, a deep dislike for inequality and injustice.
This realisation came when I examined parts of my life other than authority, namely I remembered the time I went to my first gig, to see David Bowie in Manchester at the tender age of 16.
I was really excited about attending my first concert, more so because it was David Bowie, and I had loved listening to his albums for two years prior, and his music really struck a chord with me.
So the venue was filling up and it was nearly time for the man himself to appear on stage, I started to notice people whipping themselves into a frenzy and becoming, what I would describe as, over-excited.
David Bowie then appeared 40ft above the stage attached to a cable, and was lowered as he started to sing the first few words of his opening song. A great entrance I thought, but my attention was taken away from this theatrical opening by a large portion of the crowd who were going completely crazy!
They were screaming, holding their arms out in a vain attempt to touch the singer, jumping up and down and some were even crying! At the time I thought “Wow… Is this how you are supposed to act at a gig”?
Whether this was how you were supposed to act at a gig or not, I didn’t like it and it made me wholly uncomfortable and I didn’t understand this hero worshipping.
He’s just a normal guy
Sure David Bowie was, and still is, a big deal in the music business, and I appreciate his music just as much now as I did back then, but it seemed these people were putting him on some metaphorical pedestal and saw him as a ‘god-like’ figure, way above the normal expectations of a man.
I really didn’t understand the behaviour of the crowd, and as I was one of very few not acting in this frenzied way, I thought at the time that maybe I didn’t fully understand the dynamics of a huge arena music concert.
Over the years I have thought back to that experience and now have a better understanding of it. I didn’t act in the same way as everyone else because I didn’t see David Bowie in the same way as the crowded majority on that day. Yes he was a huge ‘star’ and in my opinion made some great music, but I didn’t feel he was any better than me as a human being, and therefore didn’t feel the need to hero worship him.
I’ve bumped into a few ‘famous’ people over the years and I’ve never experienced what others describe as ‘star struck’. And it’s the same when I am in the presence of people who are considered to be figures of authority.
We’re all the same
A job title is just that, and far too many people who are given these positions of authority develop a misguided sense of power, power which can and has been misused. I’ve been witness to and personally experienced this misuse of power on many occasions.
I have seen police officers exploiting their misguided sense of power in ways which are inexcusable, and I have also been on the receiving end of misuse of power within the workplace. Don’t misunderstand me, I have also met police officers who are aware of the bigger picture and don’t misuse the authority given to them by the state.
I have also met people in positions of authority in the workplace who wouldn’t dream of exploiting their position, and that’s my point, the people I have met who are in positions of authority who deserve respect, due to the way they conduct themselves, would get it regardless of their position.
Always question authority
I have a firm belief in always questioning authority, and that’s the reason I previously thought I had an issue with it. It’s also the reason I have in the past been given labels such as rebellious, because I have always questioned authority for as long as I can remember.
I questioned authority at school and was given the title of disruptive or trouble maker. Is questioning authority a bad thing? I don’t think so, especially with so much mistreatment and corruption. I also don’t like using the word power when describing authority, as I don’t believe these authority figures have any real power, other than the power we all have within us.
I really believe I have a healthy disregard for authority, and I also believe more people should question it. What I really have an issue with is inequality and injustice in whatever form that takes.
So what do I mean by questioning authority: For example, I live in the UK and should I ever meet the head of state (currently the queen) I would be expected to bow my head when meeting her. My first response to this is, why?
Why would I bow my head to another human being? Well I wouldn’t, but the concept and expectation astounds me! I’ve never actually met the queen (believe it or not) so I have no opinion about her as a person, although I don’t agree with the concept of a ruling elite.
As far as I know she might be a very nice and warm human being, and that’s fine, but I still wouldn’t bow my head in subservience to her, to me that’s just crazy!
It’s the same in a court of law, everyone is expected to bow to the judge when entering or leaving a courtroom, and stand when the judge enters the courtroom. Again for me, I just don’t understand why there is an expectation for people to do this just because ‘the judge’ has this job and the title.
If the judge bowed his head at me when entering the courtroom, I might feel a little more inclined to do the same in response, out of courtesy, similar to the greetings in the Far East, as this may be a mutually respective act. But until I meet a judge who first takes the time to bow his head to the people in a courtroom, they won’t be getting any bow from me. Not that I attend court much anymore, but I did in a previous job.
Appreciation Vs Hero Worship
So briefly going back to the beginning of the article, I also didn’t understand why all those people were hero worshipping David Bowie when he came on stage to perform. Sure, show appreciation for his work by all means, enjoy seeing him perform live but screaming, crying and reaching out to touch him, give me a break!
David Bowie, the queen of England or the judge in a courtroom are just PEOPLE, people like you and me, no better no worse. They are as deserving of respect as the next person, they’re no more or less deserving of respect purely because of their titles or job roles.
I don’t agree with hierarchies’ full stop, I believe they create an imbalance in humanity which discriminates against the many. Couple this with the fact that the people in these positions of authority are usually the ones with the majority of the wealth and influence, and you can begin to see how the injustice and inequality that exists in the world today is perceived.
I also believe that by questioning authority I’m doing my bit for humanity, to prise it away from the draconian outdated establishment which still has a hold on the 21st century. Humanity is moving consciously in the right direction, whereby we are beginning to understand ourselves on a personal and collective level.
You are powerful
We no longer have to go through life believing we’re not good enough or powerful enough to make autonomous decisions about our own lives or the world at large. We no longer need to be babysat by a governing elite who have only their own best interests at heart.
We are strong and powerful human beings who deserve more than a life of servitude to the state, and unquestioning obedience. Long gone are the days when the establishment could instil fear in us by telling us we would go to hell and burn for eternity if we didn’t follow the rules and do as we were told.
Evolution of consciousness
Luckily we are now much more evolved and educated, but still the fight for control and power goes on. As we evolve, so do the methods of control, so we need to be perceptive to anyone who would use their position of authority for their own good, rather than the good of others.
We should be ready to unveil the abuse of authority and how better to do that than to question it. If something doesn’t feel right would you still go ahead and do it if a person in authority told you to? I’m hoping not!
It’s our duty to question what we feel is wrong in the world, even if it does come from someone considered to be a person in authority. So I no longer feel I have a problem with authority, I just believe authority has to prove itself before I walk blindly down its path.