inspired by a dialogue i am currently engaged in, i thought i'd speak for a moment about "authority". rather, The Authorities. as in, "Act normal. The Authorities are here."
i'm not quite sure where i want to go with this. i'll start by quoting myself quoting someone else: "the majority is never right". (oookayyyy...). i mean, i can think of so many instances in history and present time where a great many people believe A Thing and respect the "authority" that - for lack of better words - *authored* the Thing and then at some point one or three people said, um, i don't THINK so.. and everyone was like what? ...ohhhhhhh. well, most everyone. ... the smart people, anyway.
(good god what a pointless ramble).
anyway, i have this quote as my signature from Thomas Henry Huxley which says that every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority. a friend challenged me on the overstated nature of the quote and we have been back-and-forthing about it. which led me to this blog post.
is this really true? the absolute rejection of authority? yes, i think it's really true. and now i'm going to tell you why.
to pick the quote apart to it's bones (possibly marrow), i think it was the absolute rejection of authority. but not of *all* authority, just the particular authority on the matter at hand. you may think the sun revolves around the earth, mr. pope, but i beg to differ and in so doing i reject your authority on the matter. absolutely!
you may think it is good to put children in buildings and force them to memorize facts all day every day until they are 18 mr. whole western world, but i beg to differ and i absolutely reject your authority on the matter. sure people need to know things. but i do not accept your pre-packaged "standard facts" that every person must know or be absolutely worthless. i do not accept your idea that all humans need to know the same things at the same time. this is, in the least preposterous, idiotic and incomprehensibly absurd!
i feel that this rejection has given me my own personal advance in natural knowledge, particularly as it pertains to natural learning. i am one of a rapidly growing number of people who are rejecting this authority on education. sure, we are still a minor minority but so were the civil rights activists, the guy who started amnesty international, jesus and his disciples, and even david koresh (just checking). my absolute rejection of that authority has opened a door to me about children as people with rights, not just rights to learn what they need (desire) to learn when they choose, but real life basic human rights. the same rights that women, brown skinned people and other people that have historically (and presently) been denied equal personhood by the reigning authority figures. all people have the right to their feelings, thoughts, opinions. the right to express those thoughts, feelings, opinions (while respecting other people). the right to be treated with respect.
i therefore reject the authority that states that people who are small and young must be struck to be corrected. i, who choose to refrain from subscribing to absolutes, find that i must absolutely reject this prevailing belief. another advance in natural knowledge? i think so. because i think that some generations from now we will look back with shame on the time when it was not just okay be "good" to hit children. yes i do. absolutely.
but i digress.
to get back to the quote, i figure it's time to close and i'll do so by saying that i am not so self absorbed in my philosophies and convictions that i don't see that the quote (taken out context) is a gratuitous overstatement. but for me it's like including a bit of static electricity in my email. just a small bzzt! to trigger a new thought (process!).
i also love being challenged (*squirm*) and pushed as it helps me to a) gain clarity about my own thoughts and b) appreciate, sometimes incorporate newer, broader perspectives.