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Friday, January 25, 2013

Situational Compliance

Jeremiah obeyed God instantly, without questioning. How willing are you to go along with things that you don't understand? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1079).

This is a vast cosmos we live in and we have to get used early on to the idea that we wont and can't understand a thimbleful of what there is to know. Recognizing this fact is fundamental to having any amount of humility. That said, I have to admit that one of my pet peeves is to be commanded to do something without any sense or explanation as to why. I think of Tennyson's famous lines: “Theirs not to reason why,/ Theirs but to do & die....” Surely if I am called upon to kill others or be killed I am due some explanation – some sense of purpose. The Declaration of Independence states: “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” Giving an explanation, a reason, a sense of why is simply the decent thing to do to show consideration and respect. Everyone paradoxically likes to consider themselves both concurrently equal and special. Being the recipient of a reasonable explanation makes one feel both. Much of human dignity is based upon the simple recognition that a reasonable amount of explanation is rightly due.

Even so I can feel with parents who, after being incessantly interrogated by their youngster as to “why?” say flat-out “Do it....Because I said so!” At some point we have to trust others to have our best interest at heart—we have to accept the validity of authority. For example, it would be inappropriate for me to stop and interrogate a police officer directing traffic as to why I must take a detour—sometimes I need to “just do it.” In this sense, I believe in “situational compliance.” There are some situations in which I feel no explanation is required, while in others I am certain that I'm due an exhaustive one.

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