In my opinion, 2020 has been the year of the new decade of hope clashing with authority running unchecked. You have seen police brutality up close, protesting across the nation, and local and federal government response. Authority by itself hasn’t always been seen as a good word but deemed a necessary word. So when they are clear violations of ethical codes, criminal behavior, and the trauma of witnessing the horror of police brutality, you have to decide how to cope with this? You must also decide which side of this moral fence do you stand on?
Let me explain, the concept of authority that can be broken down into 3 parts.
Alchemized or Combined Authority
Outer authority is as it states authority from outside ourselves, giving us information on what we can and can’t do. Outer authority is necessary when you think about traffic laws and the garbage & recycling collection in our towns and cities. Where outer authority can become corrupt and oppressive is when it favors the few. It can also become corrupt when it feels like there is no way to make changes to the system.
What I really want to talk about how do you cope with this clash of hope with outer authority. And how to feel safe standing on your side of this moral fence. Many folks I know do their best to avoid the news, social media, and certain family and friends. That is certainly one defense but it’s not the best defense. Taking breaks if feeling overwhelmed is normal, cutting out vital news information and resources is not.
First thing first I remind folks who do you trust when it comes to your news? Local or national? Then follow them AND be also aware of competitor news sources that may not be your best or favorite news source. There is such a thing as confirmation bias, which basically states you follow or only listen to news and information that already agrees with your formed opinion. How will you ever change your mind or allow in new information, if you aren’t willing to look and listen to other news sources?
Secondly, when you see police violence, protests, and anything else that feels inflammatory do you do a common propaganda trick to yourself, called “both sidesism”. This is where everyone plays an armchair attorney and argues the pros and the cons of the situation. Could you and should agree with the following facts? I encourage you to STOP THIS IMMEDIATELY! Instead, look at the situation as reported and see if you have any life experience about this report. Maybe you do and maybe you don’t and that’s ok, you might ask yourself, how would you feel if this report was about you or your family? The moment you move away from let’s see it from both sides and choose to pay attention to this story as you or about your family. You will have feelings. Your feelings will help you see which side of the moral fence you are choosing.
Part of the reason why to change and challenge outer authority becomes such an explosive and necessary 2020 theme is because our collective sense of outer authority has already changed. Not everyone agrees with how, when, where, and who could and should make the changes, but it’s changed. The train has already left 2019 and we are well on the way to 2021. Knowing that this change has occurred might make it easier to accept that BLACK LIVES MATTER, DEFUND DEMILITARIZATION OF THE POLICE, and METOO movement aren’t just liberal flashpoints but barometers of future change.
You probably have feelings about the previous sentence and emotionally speaking most of us don’t like change and we often resist it for as long as we can. You may fall trap again to propaganda tools to “both sideism” or “whataboutism,” and I would encourage you to look for expert sources on race, police, and sexism in the workplace instead of “talking heads” on tv. Why? It’s important if you are going to listen to an outer authority (we all need to by the way) that they are known in the business world as SMES, Subject Matter Experts. This may require some digging and this is where social media can be your friend. You will definitely get opinions if you ask can anyone on social media for books, articles, or experts racism, sexism in the workplace, and modern policing. That can be helpful if you are willing. I also know you might be afraid of what you might find, it may be “all bad news.” True adulting is accepting the truth about yourself and any situation is you want to change it.
I’m asked this question daily, what am I going to do about people who won’t wear a mask or they wear it under their nose. I remind them unless you are in management, you may need to enforce your business policy along with local laws. That is you being an outer authority and that is not always easy. But most people will respect you informing them it’s a store policy or local law. When they don’t you have the right to contact authorities and ask people to leave or if necessary you leave.
For the rest of us, I encourage folks to follow outer authority guidance that knows more than say the police or any state governors. What does your Dr. tell you about masks? Medically speaking, it’s safer for you to wear a mask as well as your family members. Why accept this outer authority instead of the government? Well to be fair, your Dr. should know more about COVID 19 and how it’s spread. You are also more likely to accept what your local Dr. is asking you to do to care for yourself. You also stay away from propaganda traps, or should I believe what “the media” tells me? Not all media outlets are the same and any media outlet that says it’s reporting better than “mainstream media” is another example of propaganda. I never encourage anyone to ONLY listen to someone that is just a “talking head” or an “opinion host.”
For me, the best way I think of outer authority is how it can demands instead of commands. Think about it you are more likely to agree to command than a demand. Why? demands are usually for kidnappers “demanding a ransom.” Officers in the military give orders or “take command.” It may seem like a minor adjustment but it’s the truth about how we often emotionally accept outer authority. I also want to point out you may not like commands but you are more likely to follow them. You may be more willing to agree to command for the greater good, than only thinking of yourself.
To wrap up here are some tools to rethink our relationship with outer authority.
1) Pay attention to our confirmation bias and be willing to look at dissenting information and facts, not just opinions.
2) Pay attention to propaganda tricks: both-sideism, whataboutism, and “main stream media” outer authority.
3) Look for SMES- Subject Matter Experts, not just opinions, this will help with vital medical information during our COVID 19 times.
4) Pay attention when authority seems to make demands instead of commands. You are more likely to follow commands then demands.
Next up Inner Authority