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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Quiet Leadership

Daddy, Me, & Friskie circa 1960
Growing up, who was the disciplinarian in your family?  How did that person typically discipline you?  (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, p.76)

When I was on trial for refusing induction during the Vietnam War, my father spoke on my behalf.  He told the judge that he never had to whip me, whereupon the judge responded maybe that’s why we are here today.  Perhaps the judge was right.  If I had been whipped into shape and was reflexively fearful of authority, this may well have been enough to make me obey authority no matter what.  I can think of only twice that my father deliberately (and effectively) dampened my will or corrected me.  Once when I was fifteen I had promised a friend that I would take him to a meeting that night in our car.  Since I had only a restricted license, this would have been against the law.  Though my friend was in some ways handicapped, Daddy flat-out would not let me do it, and he was very brief and inflexible in our discussion about it.  The second time was again when I was a teenager; daddy and I sat watching the evening news.  This was about 1960 and pictures of demonstrating blacks being attacked by police dogs appeared on the TV screen.  I said something about "niggers."  Daddy looked long and sad at me, and said "Son, I don't ever want to hear you say that again."  So looking back, I really don’t think of my father as a disciplinarian at all; but as the ultimate person in charge and as a counselor, the person who I would turn to should ever a disputed matter need to be resolved—and as I say, which occurred to my recollection only twice.  Perhaps the reason that my father did not need to discipline me was the overwhelming respect I had both my parents.  They loved me, treated me with consideration and respect, were reliable and steady, and had my best interest at heart.  There really was neither need nor motivation to do otherwise than to respect and obey.  Because of my experience with authority growing up, I have generally a deep respect for authority and often look at it sympathetically asking would I behave much differently if I were in authority’s shoes?  On rare occasions, the answer to that question is an unqualified “yes.”  In such cases, such as with national government, I vote my preferences affirmatively and usually absent resentful anger.

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