Gratitude - Loyalty - Subordination
by Tom Plonski
We sometimes say, "That person has a bad attitude." Or we might say, "That person has a better attitude."
All wrong attitudes are unhealthy. The right attitude is a healthy attitude. The right attitude begins with gratitude. The right attitude is impossible without gratitude. So, when examining an attitude to see if it is healthy and good, look first to see if it exhibits gratitude.
If you are loyal to a person, then you will do him no harm and you will protect and defend him against those who want to do him harm.
Obedience means you give up what you want to do and instead do what someone else wants you to do. True obedience leaves no room for whining. Whining represents reluctance. True obedience means replacing your will with someone else's will. There is no room for whining or complaining in true obedience.
This does not mean you have to like doing what you are doing in obedience. This only means you do it without whining or complaining. In true obedience you do not even think whining thoughts. This does not mean that you give up the right to express your thoughts. If you have a dislike for doing something you have been ordered to do, you may inform the person giving you the order. But you should inform him respectfully. Moreover, once your thought has been told to the person, do not keep repeating it. Informing him once is proper. Repeatedly informing him is whining.
Also, just because you have informed him of your dislike, this does not allow you to disobey. If a person has been rightfully placed in authority over you, then you are obliged to obey that person. (Unless, of course, you have been ordered to do something illegal or immoral. If you have been ordered to do something illegal or immoral, then you are obliged to disobey.)
Obedience means we must do what someone else tells us to do. Obedience means we must do what someone else tells us to do instead of what we want to do. Obedience is about rights and duties.
Obedience recognizes who has the right to make a
decision and who must follow orders. When a person
has been given the right to make a decision, we say
that person has the "authority" to make the decision.
When we say, "Speak to the proper authorities" we
mean to speak to the persons who have the right to
make the decision in the matter.
The idea of subordination is related to the idea of obedience. In the army subordination is made very clear. In the army this idea of subordination is called "chain of command." A private must obey all soldiers of higher rank. A sergeant must obey a lieutenant but the sergeant need not obey the private. In the USA a general must obey the president. The president does not have to obey anyone in the army. In the USA, if the people no longer want to obey the president, they may impeach him or elect a different man to be president. But the people still must continue to obey the current president until he is properly replaced.
Obedience presupposes subordination.
Obedience and subordination are not goals in themselves. Obedience and subordination are recognized as necessary in order to accomplish a goal. For example, in a football game, someone has to decide which play to run next. The players huddle, one member makes the clear decision of which play to run next. Then the other players all obey and run the play. It would be impossible to win the game unless the team members subordinate.
In all societies there is this idea of obedience and subordination. Without obedience and subordination there is chaos. It is very important for a peaceful society to have each person understand and accept his responsibilities in this chain of command. In a country the citizens must obey the law. If a country allows its citizens to persistently disobey the laws, that country will lose its right to govern itself and there will be chaos. Persistent disobedience of the laws requires consequences. In the USA persons who persistently disobey the laws are put in jail. In some countries persons who disobey the laws are executed.
Sometimes we do not want to obey because we do not like the order, or it is inconvenient, or it is uncomfortable, or we do not like the person in authority. But none of these reasons give us the right to disobey. For example, Democrats might not like having a Republican as president but they still have the duty to obey him while he remains in authority.
Do we ever have the right to disobey someone in authority over us? Yes, sometimes we do have that right. We have the right to disobey if the person in authority over us has ordered us to do something that is immoral or illegal. That is the only time we have the right to disobey.
The idea of obedience and subordination also include the idea of rights and duties. There is never a duty without a right and there is never a right without a duty. If we want the right, then we must also accept the duty that comes with that right. For example, if we want to keep a job, then we must obey the boss.
In a public school the teachers and staff members must obey the principal and vice-principal. The principal must obey the superintendent. The superintendent must obey the school board. If people no longer want to obey a school board member, then they elect someone else for the position. If a teacher no longer wants to obey the principal, then the teacher may resign. If a teacher persistently disobeys the principal, then the teacher can be fired. If a student does not want to obey the teacher, then the student may ask his parents to place him in a different school but in the meantime the student must continue to obey the teacher. If a student persistently disobeys the teacher, then the teacher may ask that the student be expelled. If the teacher has the duty to teach, then the teacher has the right to expect obedience from the student.
Without obedience and subordination, civilization would be impossible. The world remains civilized, safe, and orderly only because so very many people have agreed to subordinate and obey.
Without gratitude, loyalty, and subordination, a person is worthless.
January 17, 2003