Authority Figures

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Cino, Jul 15, 2019.

  1. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Several people here have recently mentioned their difficulties with authority figures. I can understand, I'm no fan of power hierarchies myself.

    This creates an interesting tension, between this libertarian impulse against authority figures on one hand, and priestly, scholarly, or heavenly authority structures as found in religions.

    How do you reconcile this for yourselves?
     
  2. Thinking back I always had an instinctive love of the "watercourse way" with its image of the "power" of water. Again, there is a verse in the NT, "my power is perfected in weakness." It has been a long haul but now I see "as above, so below". Any "tension" is gone.

    Structures of power are man-made.

    (I would need to write my autobiography to truly answer this but have not got the time at the moment......:) )
     
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  3. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Active Member

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    Yes, they are .. but they are necessary.
    Central and local government are part of a civilized society.

    Take Hong Kong .. a good example of "East meets West" .
    Unfortunately, the protests that are going on at the moment are not necessarily going to change things for the better.
    Similarly, we have the "yellow-vests" in France. Authority needs to be respected. Patience is a virtue.
     
  4. "Respected"? Or "obeyed"? "Patience" is always a good call for an authority figure.

    But I agree as far as anything changing for the better. Just revolution, the turning of the wheel. Maybe new winners, new losers. As Pete Townsend wrote in "We Won't Get Fooled Again", meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
     
  5. Looking for something else I found the following, something written by Thomas Merton after he was told by his own "authorities" to cease writing on the bomb and suchlike.


    ..these authoritarian minds believe that the function of the monk is not to see or hear any new dimension, but simply to support the already existing viewpoints precisely insofar as and because they are defined for him by somebody else. He has no other function, then, except perhaps to pray for what he is told to pray for: namely the purposes and objectives of an ecclesiastical bureaucracy....He must be an eye that sees nothing except what is carefully selected for him to see. An ear that hears nothing except what is advantageous for the managers for him to hear. We know what Christ said about such ears and eyes.

    In the end, his writings were smuggled out in various ways.
     
  6. JJ50

    JJ50 Member

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    I would only respect a so called 'authority figure' if they were worth respecting.
     
  7. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    What is worth your respect, @JJ50 ?
     
  8. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    Categorically, always?
    No historical examples worthy of exception?
     
  9. Thinking about it, I would say that "structures of power" in not sharing the nature of "God" may well have become necessary but need not be either respected or obeyed.
     
  10. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Active Member

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    There's always exceptions to the rule..
    ..but imagine you were in authority. It is a big responsibility.
    You have a duty to protect people/society.
    You might therefore have to use riot police/force to control anarchy .. which is what mass protest often turns out to be.

    Anger needs to be controlled and channeled.
     
  11. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    I will disagree with that. Hope that's ok.
     
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  12. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    If modern democratic states already struggle with phenomena like the Arab Spring or the Yellow Vests - how do thoroughly undemocratic mandates of heaven get negotiated with the flock?

    (edit: removed political meanderings)
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
  13. stranger

    stranger lost in the night

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    I just live with them. Some kind of structure is necessary, or things fall into chaos. In religion there is often talk of the exoteric and the esoteric. To me the exoteric is like a framework that can give birth to the esoteric. The person struggles, for years perhaps, at the framework level and the tension encountered there can push an individual into deeper seeking, possibly freeing them to a certain degree from their exoteric beginnings.

    I tend to think of power structures, especially in governments and so forth, as a sort of necessary evil but I have to deal with the reality of "that's just the way it is" without getting too caught up in it. Sort of like being "in the world but not of the world".
     
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  14. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Active Member

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    It's quite OK .. I just presume that you are not the chief of police :)
     
  15. Maybe time and space exist to stop everything happening at once! Reality itself is the necessary structure.

    A necessary evil? I think of the O Felix Culpa.......oh blessed fault.

    "Love has no why"
     
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Is there an alternative?

    In the US that latest from your Leader indicates a policy of taking America to quite a different place than the one claimed in its Constitution (but is always there, under every surface) ...

    In the UK we've spent the past three years watching the interests of the country getting flushed down the toilet as the party which held the meanest majority in Parliament is fighting to prosperity its own unity and self-interest — note we have the choice between one candidate who went to an elite public school and an elite university, or the other candidate who, er, went to an elite public school and an elite university ... and both men are independently wealthy and have no concept of what life is like for the average citizen ... and duplicity and lies ... don't start me talking ...

    A recent BBC TV exposé of anti-semitism within the Labour Party has itself been exposed when the tearful testimony of one young woman who suffered horrible injustice turns out to be a fiction and the woman in question had been identified by other news networks as a Mossad-trained asset.

    I have given up following the news on the BBC as it's so evidently biased ... and the printed media is in the hands of powerful press magnates — Rupert Murdoch, who owns the widest-circulated UK popular press and has claimed to have made or broken prime ministers was asked why he doesn't report on Europe: "When I go to Europe they ignore me, when I walk into Downing Street the PM listens to what I say" ...

    So all my authority hierarchies are questionable and indeed suspect ...

    ... but what's the alternative?
     
  17. Indeed. However, looking back, it was the words "Authority must be respected" (by Muhammad_isa) that began this friendly dispute.

    And once you bring in "there are exceptions" the further comment made, that "patience is a virtue" becomes questionable. Always?
     
  18. As for the rest, I participated for a while on a Tabloid newspaper comments section. Result.........pure despair. And fearing being "conformed" to such, I withdrew. Like you, I can no longer bear listening or reading about any of it.

    (I sometimes offer a slightly humorous summary of events on my Facebook Page)
     
  19. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Active Member

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    Anarchy is from the devil.
    Moses, peace be with him, instructed the Children of Israel to be patient when Pharaoh was killing their baby boys.
    The sequel was in favour of them. Wicked leaders are surely a hard test, but G-d is Greater!
     
  20. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Ah ... then yes, then I suggest one should respect authority (they got there somehow, even if it's a self-preservative respect!). But we should not fawn, as we do on celebrity. Rather, we should challenge when we see a wrong.

    Rather, let me commend the words of Tony Benn:

    The Five Essential Questions of Democracy (and any institution):

    1: What power have you got?

    2: Where did you get it from?

    3: In whose interests do you use it?

    4: To whom are you accountable?

    5: How do we get rid of you?
     
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