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Thread: Relationship to Authority

  1. #11


    One thing that struck me was the usage of the preposition "to" in the title. It seems to my mind that you can't have a relationship *to* something - it has to involve the other person in a reciprocal, interactive situation (relationship *with*), otherwise it's simply your opinion of them, which they need not necessarily either know, care about or reciprocate.

    I've had various experiences with authority. As a child my awareness of the illicit nature of what I was doing went alongside the desire to do it anyway, because I either didn't understand why I ought not to, didn't agree with the reasons, or believed my reasons superseded them.

    Usually though, as a younger child, I'd just avoid being caught, and if I got caught out and it was a fair cop, I'd simply accept the punishment philosophically and make mental notes as to how to avoid capture next time.

    I'm normally quite happy to work with authority rather than against it. I've come to see it as a reciprocal thing where we serve each other's needs. I guess when I get my hackles up and go all Three Musketeers style defiance, is when they're treating me like an idiot and sort of abusing their position... like they're not acknowledging that I'm complying because I'm supporting their job description (inasmuch as it supports mine), not because I'm in awe of them personally, so I don't take well to them overstepping their bounds or trying to diddle me out of my human rights.

    It's not that I spend my time thinking of ways to rebel, but if my conscience or personal sense of honour or dignity compels me to rebel then it just comes out before I can do a thing about it. I wouldn't say so much that I'm not afraid of it, just that regardless of whether I am or not, I can't let myself be abused by it. Maybe that's just self-esteem?
    Last edited by proximo; 12-01-2009 at 07:55 AM.
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  2. #12
    Self sustaining supernova Array Zoom's Avatar
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    Feb 2009


    How do you approach and resolve conflicts with authority? What sort of impression do you typically make on authority figures? Or do you disregard authority whether earned by its merits or not? Is there any relationship between this and your earliest authority figures?
    Authority is given the same initial respect I give most people, a baseline off of which they either subtract or add to through their actions. I do not get involved with an authority if they seem tyrannical, power-hungry or mean spirited. Unless they are actively targeting people who cannot or have not stood up for themselves, at which point I do something because it would be wrong to let it lie.

    Otherwise I simply go around them, like water circumventing a boulder in its path. I simply do not care. Power struggles, one-upsmanship, competition just to prove one is right - ye can have them. All they do is cause stress and delay the solution to problems.

    I make the same impression on authority figures as most others: supposedly I am quiet, respectful, efficient, intelligent and 'good'.

    It may very well be related to my earliest authority figures. The two who were around for the longest were ones who could not be reasoned with, who utilized a no-questions-allowed, angry style of authority when they were around (which was rare) that left me mute and furious at my own impotence. I was left to my own devices and to take care of myself past the age of ten or so, so I got used to making autonomous decisions early on, including ones related to safety and life decisions. (Thusly, the occasional times they tried to "put their foot down" resulted in fireworks and a defiant refusal on my part.)

    At some point I simply stopped telling them anything and did what I needed to do, without their knowledge or consent.

  3. #13
    mrs Array disregard's Avatar
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    Apr 2007


    If it's fair and good-natured I respect it and am most myself.
    If it's unfair or domineering I resent it and close off.

  4. #14
    Senior Member Array Hirsch63's Avatar
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    Dec 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    How do you approach and resolve conflicts with authority?
    I rarely feel myself subordinate or inferior to any conventional authority. I believe in the social contract and expect any figure representing accepted laws to treat me as equals in every respect. I don't back down on this, and this tends to create problems with authorities who are very "invested" in their, I have a bit of a problem relating to those who are arbitrary...

    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    What sort of impression do you typically make on authority figures?
    Probably a bit suspect. I dress in a manner I can afford and in worn work clothes...where I may be seen as poor or disadvantaged therefore powerless, unambitious or "low class". Though the way I carry myself can often suprise an authority and throw them off my advantage.

    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    Does some authority approval mean something to do?

    Or do you disregard authority whether earned by its merits or not?
    When we are discussing a discpline rather than compliance to societal laws, approval does mean a lot to me. When mastery is demonstrable through competence and broad vision I seek that autority as a reliable source for my own behaviour and practice. My respect must be merited by performance and observable result. There is of course a place for authority in its proper sphere, and it must be measured to the situation...this discretion is generally earned only by experience. A masterful practitioner who lacks a wide long term vision in the effects of their works on society/environment is certainly less than an authority to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    Is there any relationship between this and your earliest authority figures?
    Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings...Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you a king

  5. #15
    The Memes Justify the End Array EcK's Avatar
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    I am my own source of authority.
    Expression of the post modern paradox : "For the love of god, religions are so full of shit"

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  6. #16
    Senior Member Array Ruthie's Avatar
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    I generally follow authority in practice because it's often necessary in life. When I was in college, I completed the work that was assigned; in my jobs, I don't disregard what my superiors want me to do; and I pull over when police sirens are behind me. Obviously that's not universal (I didn't turn in every assignment, didn't complete everything I was expected to at work, and was actually - weirdly - involved in a little game of dodge-the-cops once.

    If the question is about feelings regarding authority, and not actions, then I'd say it's more mixed. I hate being told what to do by people who have no business ordering me to do anything - and this has been the cause of some conflict. If a person has earned my respect, then I have no problem deferring to them.

    I tend to put a lot of stock into dependability/stickability. So, while I don't really care about a person's credentials (where they went to school or who they know), I do care about the length of their experience. I usually trust someone who has just been around for a while. I've really nailed the whole "respect your elders" thing.

  7. #17
    mountain surfing Array nomadic's Avatar
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    Jul 2008


    its either character based, or practicality based

    character based meaning, i would probably respect whatever it is they authoritored on me if i perceive them as having good character. i.e. a while ago, a cop pulled me over and gave me a seat belt ticket. lolz. I was like "What the heck? Are you guys that desperate for some revenue?" And the cop just flat out said without hesitation " Well, I guess so. on the freeways today, there was absolutely no one speeding, which is weird. So im pulling over no seat belts today..." which was totally cool with me. amazing honesty. I actually didn't mind paying the fine as a result.

    Then other times, to a judge i've argued that its selfish for a county to impose fines on other county drivers bc of making up revenue transfers from budget surplus counties to budget deficit counties, when its state to state we should be worried about which is much much bigger. stuff that just shocks the system. I've challenged douchebag cops to a fight before, but I'd say "After you get off of work, wanna brawl?" cus while they are on duty, they are the law. But nowadays, its a practical matter. Does it stand in the way of something else that I really want? Then I'll just defer.

  8. #18
    Senior Member Array cafe's Avatar
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    I agree with Jennifer's interpretation. They perceive your quiet cooperative demeanor as being submissive. When they discover that it's not the case, they attempt to force submission by dominant/hostile behavior.

    I think humans are sort of like other social predators in that we have a pack order and when you don't behave in a submissive manner when someone is really invested in being top dog, they get all snarly and try to hump you and stuff.

    I haven't run into it real often, but I cannot be around people like that. I am about as Omega as you can get until somebody tries to pull that crap and then, if I don't get out of the situation, I get mean and aggressive very quickly. It just makes me to the point that I don't care about consequences anymore.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
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  9. #19
    Member Array Eowyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    I often tend to fulfill their requirements and don't intentionally cause trouble, and for that reason am often liked or accepted for the most part. I don't feel submissive exactly, but go for efficiency and the path of least resistance in my interactions.
    This generally sums up my experiences with authority. There is usually no problem. If, however, the authority imposes an arbitrary restriction simply because they can, I tend to rebel.
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  10. #20
    movin melodies Array kiddykat's Avatar
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    I treat authority figures like I would anyone else- depending on who's the authority- this might fair well and might not..

    How does it relate to the authority figures I had at a young age? I think there's some correlation.

    I tend to cooperate more with those who are authoritative, rather than authoritarian.

    And with authority figures, I realize that some people like to create drama. When stuck with one of those types of personalities, I tend to be friendly but keep my distance. I know they have their own issues and so do I, but life's too short to be consumed with all that..

    Sometimes, people will automatically judge and dislike others for their own apparent lack of insight/ignorance. And when they see someone who works hard, maybe they see it as a threat to their own position?

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