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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Blog #20 Why does authority work?

Again I am scorned by the cold touch of authority and the wondrous atmosphere that it puts me in. I just cannot get over the psychological trance that many are put in by a person of authority. One moment they could be bad mouthing a commander, then when the officer is present they are the finest of listeners. I just do not understand it. In my previous blog I discussed some positive and negative aspects a leader must emulate in order so gain respect, fear, or an aura of knowledge that wills a group into following the example pledged by the so called authority figure. Why did an entire nation persecute and kill millions of Jews during the Holocaust? Why do children feel the need to listen to their parents and adults?  Why does authority work?

I'll begin with my opinion concerning something as heinous and vile as the Holocaust. Obviously a combination of factors come into play in this regard. "The open door phenomenon", manipulation, and leading by example were some prime features as to why authority worked in this instance. Some called the children of Germany during the era the "Hitler's youth". In school they were imprinted with the idea that Jews were sou less beings that needed to be eradicated. While this was the key principle basic human ethics got the better of some children. Some people just can't kill, so the Nazis perfected the open door idea in which they made individuals take baby steps to becoming killers. In a quick example, lets say someone is being tortured. This first job of the individual would be to guard the door, second to guard with back to the tortured with the door open, next to face and watch the tortured while guarding the opened door, next to possibly restrain the tortured, next to maybe even perform of the torture themselves. Nazis developed this technique to create ruthless killers to put fear into the army and look to Hitler as a god. Hitler created his authority because he was able to manipulate and create his subjects. This authority worked through manipulation.
Fear. I know for myself when I was younger I listened to my parents and teachers out of fear. I was frightened to get spanked. No one likes the belt to the naked bottom, stuff hurts... alot... Kids don't have a huge amount of worries. They listen to their parents and then follow the rules simple as that. But, why do they follow the rules? They are scared of their parents, hell I almost pooped myself in kindergarten when I stole a little toy from class without realizing. I got home and told my mom and felt the worst I think I've ever felt. Over ten years down the line I still remember the fear I had telling my mother in the kitchen of our old house I had stolen a school possession. Fear sounds horrible, but it does help teach a young boy or girl how to behave correctly. This form of authority works and is constructive even if it sounds awful.

I've given two terrible examples, but authority also works in a laid back society as well. Take men's volleyball at st. mark's for example. We don't work very hard, we barely warm up for games, we don't even have practices on Fridays or weekends, and our huddles during a game consist of us trying to think of a good cheer. (We've shouted things like Leggo My Eggo, Too infinity and Beyond, Pound, Babs, Strocko, Winston, Four, Three... so on) We do all this, yet we win games? We are the team with by far the best chemistry in the state. Every one of us messes up sometimes and yet we all still smile and have fun. Why do we work? Because we have respect for our coach, and she has respect for us. She understands its the end of the year and that we don't care about school nor want to have the stress of a nagging coach. Stephanie Strocko is a great authority figure who understands us. All she gives us is a glare/ a swift comment here or there and that's all we need to keep in line. We honestly play for the fun of it while other teams pull their hair out for every point. Its awesome.

Why does authority work? It works for a multitude of reasons. Out of all three of the examples I went over I definitely know the third is the best mostly because we aren't literally killing people, and we aren't scared of anyone. What type of authority have you dealt with over the years?

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