Reflections: On Authority

 

I was raised by my father to respect and obey authority. His word was law. If I did not eat my peas…WHACK! I ate my peas. If I drew on the wall again after he told me verbally not to….WHACK! I never wrote on the wall again (or at least I stretched out the times I drew on the wall farther and farther until I stopped).

The interesting part, is that sometimes, I despise authority.

When I was in 2nd grade, I went to a catholic school run by nuns. There I became disillusioned with Catholicism or rather, Catholiscm became disillusioned with me. When I was in religion class, I asked a lot of questions. I had heard all of the stories they told me about Jesus before, so I got bored. I would contradict them and ask why this and why that. They went to my parents about the matter and eventually had me removed from religion class. I was supposed to get my confirmation, but they took me out of the class because I was bored and started playing around. From this, I saw that people don’t like their authority questioned, and they lash out. Looking at it now, I see the whole thing as petty.

When I was in 1st and 2nd grade at that school, I got picked on. Most of the time, my older sister cover my rear, so I was fine. It was that big of a deal. The year after second grade, I went to a different school and didn’t come back until 5th grade. This time, one of my best friends turned on me. He would walk across the courtyard during recess just to pick on me. He would pick on me in class. When I told the teacher about it, she just told him to stop. He would stop for a minute and then resume. When I told my parents about it, my Dad was going to teach me how to beat my “friend” up. But then my parents sent me to military school. They told me it was to help me with my grades, because I lacked the discipline to do homework (but had smarts to do well on test) and it was to help toughen me up. Looking back on all that, getting picked on was not bad at all. But at the time I thought it sucked. Even in military school, I saw interesting things. My roommate, picked on me all the time. He was at least two years older, bigger than me, stronger than me, and  was liked by all the staff. When I almost got kicked out of military school for how I was handling the bullying and get picked on, he was almost completely untouched by the whole thing, because all of the staff could not believe he would do such a thing as pick on me. I remember he was picking on me in class. I said, “Goddamit X! Fucking stop it.” The teacher told him to stop and yelled at me for my outburst.

What I learned from all that was that I could not trust people in positions of authority to fix my problems for me. Nowadays I don’t care if someone tries to pick on me or call me names. But if somebody starts hitting me, he better be a better fighter than I am. Otherwise I will react by beating him senseless. The good news is that I never got into a fight all of high school. I think I exuded this mind set in my body language so that nobody ever wanted to fuck with me (that and they called me military man because I went to military school).

In high school, something changed. I did not automatically give every teacher who taught me respect, just because they were my teacher. I remember in ninth grade, I had a fat history teacher. Something about his personality, whether it was his jokes, or attempt to be cool, or establish authority when he lacked the gravitas set me off. My first day at high school and in his class, he asked everyone to introduce themselves and tell him what our favorite candy. When it was my turn, I said, “Hell if I know.” He asked me if that was a good candy and if not, raising his voice, he said something to the effect of, I should watch my language and be respectful. At that point, I saw him as a joke. I joked around with him class all year long, alternating between laughing at him and laughing with him so he was never sure what I was trying to do. I told him loudly in October that he should dress up as Peter Griffin from Family Guy for Halloween. He was not sure whether to take that as a compliment or an insult. I meant it as an insult but pretended I was complimenting him. Everyone in the class laughed and knew what I was doing.

It was no better when we had substitute teachers (subs). In fact, it was worse. There was this sub, who I’ll call Miss D.. Miss D. was an Indian sub who was famous for telling “her students” to rub their stomachs and pat their heads simultaneously in order to calm themselves down. I could tell right away from meeting her that she couldn’t teach. I once had an English class with her. I toyed with her and when she finally understood I was making fun of her, she told me to go outside….which was exactly what I wanted. Outside of class I finished the assignment the teacher left behind quickly and started listening to music on my iPhone loudly so that people in the class could hear me. She came outside, saw me laying on the ground with my hands behind my back and told me to turn the music off and come back inside. All my friends enjoyed hearing that story.

My junior year, I had an AP English who could not teach. She gave out easy As and her quizzes were jokes. But she could not teach. Sometimes she would ramble on and on and on and on. I made a game of how much I could distract her from class or argue with her on things I didn’t agree with. I often got in many arguements with her. I often made fun of her. I often joked with her. And just to cover my bases and confuse her even more, I apologized once when I felt I went too far. We became “friends” and I even got her to write me good college recommendations. People, including me, complained that they were not learning anything. I think the school asked her not to come back next year.

I learned to dislike incompetence in authority. If I felt a teacher was less competent than I was, I thought she didn’t deserve to be a teacher. As I was getting older, I was realizing that adults are not the infallible creatures I thought they were.

Looking back on it, it looks as if I could sense a teacher had no authority, I would rip them to shreds. Why do I have to listen to her, I thought. She’s just a substitute teacher. She can’t teach. Why I am here?

When I was in the dorm, I got in trouble for telling a friend about what happened to me in military school. He got scared and told the school. Long story short, I got counseled, was ordered to go to a psychologist for a year a half. Part of the reason why I stayed the school was because one of dorm house parents (people who live within the dorm who teach or run the dorm) put in a good word for me. I made a point to always be friendly with the house parents, joke around with them, and tell them the truth. That way, if I really needed to lie or got in trouble, I could away with it. I started doing this with teachers as well my sophomore year, unless I sensed that the teacher was weak.

I almost always challenge authority and ask questions of people who want me to do things, especially if I do not like the tasks or things they demand of me. My respect is earned, not taken from me.

I feel like what I do to people in authority is similar to what girls do to guys (shit-tests anyone?)

~Wald

10 thoughts on “Reflections: On Authority

  1. Catholic elementary school sure does have a knack for getting kids to lose the faith young. In other news, I’ve found authority only exists when those being commanded say “Yes.” Simply saying “No” takes the power back. Problems it seems to me is that these days, people don’t know how to say “No” without feeling guilty, so they just go along with whatever.

    • People definitely have problems saying “No” these days. With all the shaming going, it is not hard to understand why.

  2. When I was very young, I had the balls to protest. First day at school, I called my female teacher an asshole. Got a lot of reprimands and kicked out in 2nd year. With time, I adapted and became a frightened little monkey, eager to please. These days, I prefer getting in trouble again.

    Once, I had a fat ugly female teacher. I happened to scratch my balls as they were itching. She saw it and told me to stop. Stop what, I asked. Few days later, I got ordered into the principles office. The boss of the therapeutic living community I was residing in was thete, too. He asked with contempt: Have you washed your hands? That whale had filed complaint about sexual harrassment and I was made to apologize. It was extremely humiliating.

    I fucking hate authority. Maybe the hallmark of the fatherless. All I ever got was commanded, but never loved or rewarded. Not your fucking slave. If law and power was no matter, I would kill anyone who wants to command me around. Without too much of guilt, I reckon.

    • Getting in trouble in highschool was a lot of fun, especially if you realized how much you could get away with. That said, I generally messed with substitute teachers who little to no power over my destiny or grade in the course.

      I’d be nice to all my normal teachers and mean to my substitute teachers. And when they’d complain, who would believe them? “Wald” would never do such a thing like that! Heh

      I can imagine that as extremely humiliating and confusing as you did not physically touch the teacher or desire to. Such is the lot of ugly women – pretending a man raped them or harassed them sexually in some fashion is better than coming to grips that no man wants them (and won’t unless they change, which is hard).

      I dislike authority if I feel it is not earned or appropriate. There are moments where I might have bristled at the command of my father, but ultimately, I believe he has my best interests at heart, and that’s one of the biggest differences. He wishes for me to do great things and become someone great – so his advice and leadership tends to shepherd me in that direction, whether I’m aware of it or not. Whereas if someone else tries to command in the same fashion – I’m immediately bristly and wondering what is in it for me and more importantly, what do they think is in it for them.

      I think I could do the same in theory – but my mind is moves to more what do I gain and lose from that. I’d rather manipulate such a leader more than kill him – law of unintended consequences, externalities, and all that.

      Wald

      • Damn, that may be a very important point there. Thinking that my best interests are taken care of. I never felt that way about any kind of authority. But I do feel that way about god, which is why I am continually putting more trust into that relationship.

        Actually, my relationship with god I see as a template for each leader-student relationship I may ever encounter. The student voices what he wishes to achieve and the leader leads the student to achieve that – and not to do what is ‘right’ or what the leader wants the student to be.

        My mother was the only constant authority in my life. And her leadership would have led me to spend the rest of my life with her, taking care of her mental illness and living with her in a house. You can imagine why I feel betrayed by her and thus generally distrustful towards people with power over me.

        • I believe it is no coincidence that my relationship with my father is so good because I treat him as my father, not just as a friend. He’s there to teach and lead me, I’m here to learn from him and honor him. I think all boys, to some extent, see their Fathers as God.

          Seeing the similarities between the relationship I have with my father and the relationship that seems is encouraged to be had with God is part of the reason why I draw ever nearer.

          As for the leader-student template – here’s another fun tid-bit. So – my view on things is that if a man has slept with more women than myself, I could stand to learn something from him. Should I encounter a man who has not slept with as many women as I, I see it that I could possibly teach him something. Such a thinking does two things. First – it kills envy. Secondly – it kills conflict between two men – I can often turn a potential competitor into a very valuable ally. I’m no threat to them and just want to learn from them because I have a high opinion of them…

          I can very well see why you feel as you do. One of the reasons women are not to be leaders to men (exceptions exist of course, but the exception proves the rule). And of course you would feel distrustful of people with power over you. We are all born sinners and are flawed. What’s to say that those in power won’t abuse it from time to time, and to what extent?

          Wald

          • “that seems is encouraged to be had with God”

            I am not really an authority on it, but I would say that you should not be asking anybody about that but god. You should not ask anybody what god is about, instead find it out on your own.

            There is a deep wish inside me that I have come to realize recently. It is the wish to submit. To a father. And yes, my father is more of a friend and that is why it can never work. He does not offer me submission and I hate him for it, because I really desire to – or did desire, now it is too late.

            I may have been projecting this wish to submit on my mother and then consequently on women. Since I am more aware of it, I almost completely lost the wish to submit to a woman or let her walk over me. Or fawn over her. Just bitches. Cute, but unnecessary.

            • I don’t ask just anybody – I ask few authorities (heh) on God who I know and trust. One of them is my father. The other one I correspond with regularly and his writing has helped me decide for myself, through clarifying things few could, to come closer back to Catholicism.

              That said – I understand your point – I’ve got a long way to go – and only I can get myself there.

              Your point about submission makes a whole lot of sense. I wonder how many other men have the same thing.

              Wald

            • Yes, brother. In the end, we all go our own ways and choose whom to let guide us.

              I guess, yeah. All those without fathers in the sense you described it. Maybe I should write an article about it.

What do you think about that?