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Question authority

I posted this on my wall about a week ago.  Something I've been thinking about is how many of my friends do this.  In fact, I would say that most of the people I know are critical of the government, and of politicians.  Sadly, some of them are only critical of the "other" party, rather than of all politicians, but at least that's a start, I suppose.

But I really don't know too many people who say things like "We should trust the government absolutely" or "There's no need to be critical" or things like that.  Every once in a while, I encounter a statist of this type, but not that frequently.  It may be just because I'm a libertarian and tend to associate with other libertarians, but I find that many of my friends are entirely disenchanted with government and want to see a vast overhaul, or even a complete removal of government altogether.

At any rate, what I've been thinking about so much is how people apply this concept to government, but not to their own religion.  I do have some friends who are critical of their own beliefs, and who do not simply accept whatever their church leaders say, but I would say that this is the exception rather than the rule.  Most of the Christians that I know follow unquestioningly.  They object to the term "blindly", but it is without doubt an unquestioning obedience.  If their prophet says that gay people should not be allowed to marry, then they believe that and campaign to make/keep it illegal for gays to marry.  If their priest says that tattooed people are going to hell, then they feel justified in judging people with tattoos.

But I feel that the Franklin quote applies equally to any type of authority figure.  Indeed, when my own students feel it necessary to challenge me, I welcome their challenge.  I may have graded their test wrong.  I may have made a mistake while writing on the board or while lecturing.  I don't think that there is any authority which is or should be beyond questioning.  I think that people should question their church leaders, their political leaders, their community leaders, their employers, and any other authority figures in their lives.  Not just out of privilege or right, but as Franklin has said, out of a responsibility to do so.

I'm imagining what society would be like if people did question their leaders.  We wouldn't have as many cults, because people wouldn't follow their cult leaders blindly.  They'd demand an explanation for why they had to live in a special compound, or why they had to do some other radical thing.  We wouldn't have as many terrorists, because the people being asked to suicide bomb would question the rationality of such behavior.  I think that the world would be a much more peaceful and much less hateful place if people would do that.  Question your own beliefs.  Question the people that you choose to follow (or are required by law to follow).  Question those who hold authority over you.  Be critical.  Examine the teachings you are taught, use logic and reason to decide whether they are good or harmful.  Not just political leaders, but any leaders.  Church leaders, prophets, priests, popes, cardinals, etc.

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