Saturday, December 26, 2009

Neither a leader nor a follower

I had a problem with authority all through my school days. Schools have all kinds of stupid rules, and I didn't much care for them. Not that I was a trouble maker, I wasn't. Just now and then some stupid rule would go into effect and I'd do my best to "beat the system."

Always had a problem with authority. You might suspect that attitude might have caused me problems when I was a Firefighter. It wasn't as bad as you'd think. Most of the people who were in a position of authority were people I respected. They earned their position. It wasn't a matter of them giving orders from a position of authority. They were giving orders from a position of experience and knowledge. That I could follow.

Authority for authority's sake? I wasn't impressed. Oh, I could follow day to day orders from someone who's authority I didn't respect. What the heck, it's not like it was for anything serious: wash the truck, clean the Chief's office, arrange the spanner wrenches -no biggie. In a life and death situation, it was different. Orders that were given by someone who's knowledge and experience I didn't respect -well, for some reason or another those orders just never seemed to get followed.

I'm not alone with this attitude. It happens from time to time in the Fire service. The guys at the end of the nozzle tend to see a lot more fire than the guys on the sidewalk with the radio. A line officer out there with you in the middle of the red stuff tends to know what he's doing. The guy on the sidewalk is most likely a political animal. If he'd loved fighting fires, he'd still be on the business end. Line officers are much easier to follow. Helps that you've probably saved each other's lives a few times. Creates a bond that goes well beyond who's got official authority.

Now I know the military doesn't work that way. In the fire service, the worse thing they could have done to me was fire me. I was looking for a job when I found that one. They can't exactly shoot you for insubordination. Heck, the fire service tends to attract insubordinate types.

I don't get into much trouble. Laws, or as I call them, "suggestions," often actually make sense and are easy enough to follow. I don't run red lights, drive drunk, steal, cheat, or do a whole lot of other illegal things. If a law is stupid, I tend to ignore it. The most stupid laws are those passed that they have no way of enforcing. That just encourages people like me to have contempt for even more laws.

I follow the golden rule. That should be law enough for most things.

The flip side of authority is that I don't much want any. I don't want followers or people under my authority. Everyone should be their own boss. Everyone's a king. Only thing is, we are like the Irish kings of old. (King from this tree all the way down to the big rock) Everyone's in command of their own little kingdom. We should treat each and every individual like one king treats another. Everyone has a kingdom of one.

I recognize the little spark of godhood in each and every person. Now most don't manifest that bit of godhood, but I'd like to think it's there.

My goal is to help people achieve their own personal sovereignty. One way to do that is to be as independent of systems of control as possible. If a person is confident they can take care of their basic needs without outside help, that person is less likely to follow authority for authority's sake. If a person is free and independent in most ways, what can he gain by bowing to authority?

Isn't it comforting to think that there are people who won't "just follow orders."

After all, a king doesn't have to follow orders.



  1. I just found your post today through Google. It's me to a tee, thank you.

  2. I'm so fed up reading about how we can be a great leader. I never wanted to be a leader nor a follower - and here was your article - really enjoyed it,