Disobedience A Double Edged Sword
Mrs. H. Shmaysani Shayto
English 204, section 15
Claim: Disobedience is sometimes a necessary transitional phase and it’s not always harmful as people claim.
Argument 1: disobedience leads to awareness.
Argument 2: One opinion is not always correct, and new ideas may seem to be wrong at first.
Argument 3: Conscience objection or disobedience is only a step towards a better society.
Argument 4: Obedience can have very serious consequences.
Con 1: Disobedience leads to social and economical instability.
Con 2: Disobedience can lead to sectarianism.
Con 3: Ethical corruption is a result of disobedience.
Disobedience: A Double Edged Sword
Somebody once said: “Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” Ever since the human race fell into his first sin, man has been rebelling against immoral obedience and. However, the first steps of transforming into a full human began with a simple step of disobedience and with it came the responsibility for one’s own acts. Nowadays, our society raises us to believe that obedience is good and disobedience is bad. We are taught that we should do all what we’re told and that disobedient people are mostly accused of being bad people. Society tells us this, but it is not true. Disobedience is sometimes a necessary transitional phase and it’s not always harmful as people claim. Could disobedience be the step to a prosperous future or to the end of human civilization?
Conscience objection or disobedience is only a step towards a better society. All the advancements Man achieved in various fields, such as health care, technology, democracy, and religion, were all based on simple acts of disobedience. Human beings have a tendency to disobey, it’s in their nature. The bible writes about how Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s orders and ate from the forbidden tree, and were later on punished by becoming mortals. As soon as they took their first bite they became aware of their naked bodies, and that they are different from each other (Fromm 357). Hence, any act of disobedience leads to awareness in the future, which is something good for the society. Disobedience is not always wrong, instead it made human unique compared to other beings, since he is able to differentiate wrong from right.
In the old days, science was thought to be magic, and whoever tried to prove and explain some natural phenomena, such as diseases or that the sun is not a God and its only a ball of fire, was accused to be evil. Even though the punishment was very extreme, many such as Galileo and Newton fought those wrong ideas and disobeyed the orders, proving through scientific experiments how nature works. As a result of scientific disobedience in the old days, technology and science play a very important role in our lives today and without them, health care and medicine wouldn’t have advanced and benefited human health. Scientists are still researching and experimenting and disobeying religious opposition, for the betterment of human life. Human life will be at risk in the future, and what other efficient weapon do we have more than science to help us through this crisis? For example, cloning and stem cell research which are considered to be satanic acts that try to erase God’s ability to create life are the only hope for human future (Farimani) (Kavanaugh). And still those scientists keep on researching hoping that one day, religion will accept this new idea, and believe that it is human nature to discover. God gave us our mind and he told us to use it, he didn’t put rules or limits. Anything that doesn’t harm us is beneficial to us and cloning and stem cell researching is more than good to ensure our future expectations.
Many ideas were thought to be wrong at first. Everything against traditions will always seem to be an evil act, thus, one tries to break the bonds put forth by societies by forcing new beneficial ideas. However, after a while, people understand those new ideas and follow them, and they become a part of their lives. For example, blacks in the old days were treated as animals and slaves, but nowadays, they are treated equally with white people, and that is because many rebelled to the idea of slavery. Those are also human beings with a different skin color due to the high amount of pigment found in their skin. It is science that showed why the skin is black. And currently blacks are no longer treated savagely and are equally recognized for whites as human beings who share the same God. Therefore, by rebelling to certain beliefs, humans reached to a better society.
Disobedience is a step to a better society. Throughout the ages people tried reaching certain goals for their benefit; namely, democracy and freedom. Revolution, a big part of disobedience, took place in many countries and the positive results helped other people in other nations also to gain their rights and freedom. The American Revolution took place to gain independence from England, as a result of disobedience, that lead to the birth of the strongest nation on earth that fights by the name of democracy and freedom. Consequently, this revolution was carried on to France and was known to be the great French Revolution, where this country gained democratic freedom and was no longer a kingdom. Also, another example is the orange movement that happened in Ukraine and was an opposition to the government’s undemocratic behavior which lead to early elections where the people voted, without any opposition to their new president, and they won (Orange Revolution 1). This orange movement that was carried on to Lebanon by some political parties after the tragic death of the Lebanese Prime Minister, also lead to clean democratic elections which were proven to be the first independent election since 30 years when Syria occupied Lebanon. More than one million people demonstrated in the streets to show their disapproval for the brutal murder of our Prime Minister (Almustaqbal 1). It was chaotic and their rebellious acts lead to the resignation of certain political figures (Almustaqbal 2). And in the end those demonstrators were only struggling to fix their mistake, to reach a better, free and independent society, a society free from fear and prosecution, a place to live peacefully and with dignity. On the other hand, many think that all this disobedience to reach certain goals lead to negative results instead of what people really expected, but that is not the case.
Obedience can lead sometimes to dreadful consequences as simply a matter of “following orders”. Many people might obey and follow rules because it makes them feel safer and right, or maybe because they fear the consequences of disobeying (Lessing). Even if they knew they were doing something against their morals and against their traditions and beliefs, they will still do it if it was ordered by a higher power (Milgram 325). The TV show Candid Camera, took advantage of people’s compliance of signs several times. When the people in a restaurant saw the sign on the lunch counter that said “DON’T EAT”, they would automatically stop eating without asking why. Also another example was when a store had a sign that ordered people not to walk on the black tiles, and people passing by would start to jump from one white tile to another (“Obedience”). Also another story posted online talks about how many people were obliged to follow immoral orders just because the one who was giving them was a reverend. People believed his orders were divine as if he were a God. So they either gave him their money and property, or they were publicly humiliated and sometimes even hit (“Obedience”). Stanley Milgram’s “Perils of Obedience” experiment shows that sixty percent of ordinary people would agree to obey an authority figure even to the point of severely hurting another human being (323). The experiment forced participants to either violate their conscience by obeying the immoral demands of an authority figure or to refuse those demands, reported that under a special set of circumstances the obedience we naturally show authority figures can transform us into agents of terror or monsters towards humanity, and that obedience mostly increased when people feel less responsibility for the consequences of their actions (314). Accordingly, we now see how obedience has negative influences on people, when it was really thought by some to be a condition of all mutual living and as an essential factor of the composition of communal life.
Many may argue that disobedience is the main reason behind the economic and social devastation. It leads to a stop in the progress of businesses and social life. Also, it leads to sectarianism and hatred among different political parties. Finally, many believe it has a negative and direct effect on the ethical corruption happening around us. Disobedience, as some people define it, is a curse and a virus that contaminates one’s mind by wrong ideas, and manipulates their thinking like the evil snake that convinced Eve to take a bite from the apple of the forbidden tree. Furthermore, many economists argued that demonstrations on very large scales, threaten the economy. When people all go to demonstrate, they block main roads and prevent others to go to work. This stops the whole country from making money. Businesses fall and a lot of money is lost. For instance, according to Almustaqbal Newspaper, the strikes and demonstrations that took place on the 14th of March, gathered more than one million people in one spot and in comparison with Lebanon’s population, it is a very large number. People that day didn’t go to work and the economy was said to be drowning. However, sometimes sacrifices must be done to reach something far better, such as dignity, honor, and a prosperous future for us and our children. Disobedience will always have negative effects at first. Another example, are the tents in the downtown, more than half the shops have closed there because of the inaccessibility to reach them. People stopped going there and businesses closed, but this disobedience to the current authority, by the opposition, will only end when all parties agree. This chaos and destruction is a phase, and it is working against our hopes and in the end, they are all working for the benefit of this country. This difference in point of views will lead to new ideas and in the near future, those new ideas will help the economy gain what it lost and Lebanon will prosper.
Moreover, some believe that disobedience from some groups leads to hatred and sectarianism. How could this be relevant? This is a free country; everyone has the right to impose ideas if he believes they are beneficial. Respect other people’s beliefs if you want them to respect yours. And whoever says that disobedience leads to hatred is very wrong. I do have strong political affiliations to a certain party, but this doesn’t prevent me from being friends with people from opposite parties and different views. No one has the right to erase the other. My best friends are from different political parties and still, we go out and have fun together. We do argue, each for his own point of view, but we never apply hate. Hatred is for the weak; we argue to understand each other, to reach an agreement, and to relate our ideas; but we never argue because we detest each other.
Another consequence is that some conservative people argue that disobedience gives rise to ethical corruption. In addition, those people believe that obedience is the requirement of all mutual living and it is a basic element of the structure of social life. Well, many agree to the point that the word “freedom” is being used for granted as if it is some kind of substance. Hence, with it they believe they can do whatever they want. Also, humanists stress the priority of the individuals’ conscience. Disobedience, to our ethical and moral traditions in the Middle East and especially in Lebanon, is in exponential rise everyday. They give examples such as Dana, the singer, who appears on T.V and uses her body and terrible voice to reach the people, to represent what disobedience to our moral traditions has brought us. Also some individuals link the ethical corruption to the bad economical situation, and that many people are heading towards singing because it brings them quick money, and makes them believe they are important. This ethical and social damage has nothing to do with disobedience. If some people break our traditions it isn’t because they want to disobey, but because certain factors, such as media are the main reason behind people like Dana and Nana. Media for instance, is helping them corrupt our society.
In conclusion, disobedience is not a crime. A Citizen who disobeys can be a person who is acquiring the desire of freedom and the courage to stand up alone against the authority and salvation. Moreover, one should have the tactic of thinking on his own, and has to be brave enough to face the things he deems are his right. And whoever claims that disobedience is always bad and obedience is always right, was wrong. The fact is that sometimes it is crucial to be rebellious. The majority of the people are not aware that they are standing at the edge of changing the world’s destiny, a bright future or the end of civilization. Disobedience, in most cases, is a phase, a step towards a self correctness, in most cases. It does not necessarily encourage hatred, ethical, social and economical corruption. It is part of life, Part of the human’s nature and the will to advance. Either we use it well for our benefit or it will destroy us. We should be wise to use this disobedience for a better tomorrow. To end it up, one must say that disobedience is a sin only when it is leading to corruption and to human’s selfishness, and greed. However, I strongly believe that Disobedience becomes a virtue when it is directed to freedom, human’s right and the will of tolerance.
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