The words I define such experiences are usually fall into a category within authority, resistance, obedience, disobedience, freedom and responsibility. Strange, because in leadership training manuals which I used to essentially memorize in high school, the point that I made sure to remember is that responsibility and authority go hand in hand - at least as far as far as military leadership is concerned. In other words, in order to give or take actual responsibility, the authority to carry out the task must be equally aligned with the responsibility for carrying it out. Fast forward 30-40 years and that which stood out to me then as something that made sense to me, like the saying “an unexamined life is not worth living,” still makes sense to me today. It’s simple as that and so easy to see if you take it to the extreme of a survival situation wherein one live or die, but when you include into the mix a world system of cultural norms, etiquette or accepted practices, navigating freely and easily from point A to B in order to carry out one’s duties can become more of a zigzagging balancing act than a movement in a straight line.
This is what my personal journey to life is all about,- examining myself, the potential that I am able to be and become and taking responsibility (while also giving myself the authority to carry out that responsibility) to live as best I am able. It’s easy enough for me to write out; however, when it comes to actually living it, I’m still working figuring that out. For example not too long ago, as part of what I do in the world system, I was instructed to carry out certain tasks as part of the volunteer work that I’m required to do. Notice the oxymoron? Yea, just like “representative” democracy, volunteerism now carries connotations of the word “mandatory”. It’s a funny world we live in, how the contradictions are becoming so apparent. And they’re going to become much more blatant throughout the world system - until there’s no more denying or hiding from the hypocrisy - but that’s another story.
Anyway, without going into too much detail, the first time I was instructed to carry out such tasks, I did so, but not without noticing a certain amount frustration beginning to build up within me for being instructed to carry out tasks which would interfere with my regular responsibilities - which include maintaining my mental and physical wellbeing = not overly burdening myself. Accordingly, as per my self-correction commitments from timelines of previous mind constructs, in order to stop the emotions from building via communicating my stance as in what I will and will not accept and allow, I also communicated my stance with the one giving the instructions, while also fulfilling those instructions.
Nevertheless, as soon as I had completed that one task, instructions to carry out another appeared and that when I remembered, the only one responsible for doing or not doing something is me. Thus, I responded that I wouldn’t place additional responsibilities ahead of my core responsibilities that I had already specifically agreed to do and that these additional responsibilities would have to wait. However, on the receiving end of that “No” was a want, need or desire for a “yes” that wasn’t ready to accept no for an answer. Eventually my “no” prevailed because as I saw it through detailed examinations of past timelines, I didn’t really have a choice but to say no. In other words, anything less would have led to suppression, fatigue and eventually just walking away. So instead I communicated my stance, compromised to an extent and stood firm on the bottom line. As a result, the emotions dissipated, I go the task done and I’m now kind of back to a state of normalcy. That being said, there’s still the question of why the emotions came up in the first place, why is it so difficult for me to say no?
Saying no is sometimes quite scary for me even when it’s something I know that I have to do. It’s like, once the “No” as a stop is in place, an uncertainty takes its place in the form of a question, what will come next and will there be repercussions? It can feel like a relationship changer, a stepping up from the ease of unquestioning obedience to that participant in the decision-making process - with me now becoming the determining factor by taking responsibility (while giving also giving myself the authority) in deciding what I will and will accept and allow. There is also a certain amount of risk involved due to the hierarchical nature of the world system. In other words, whereas each one of us is able to and usually actually does a certain level determine ultimately what we will and will not accept and allow, our positions within the world system sometimes demand of us that we obey regardless of how we would prefer to stand. Thus it becomes a balancing act of weighing risks of self-determination with the benefits of self-determination and unfortunately, the best answer is not always so clear. For example, imagine a worst-case scenario, as a soldier you’ve just been ordered to execute someone. If you don’t carry out the order, someone else will and you and your family will be executed as well, what do you do? As human beings the answers are not always a clear. What we always have though is our ability to take responsibility for our actions and determine who we are in each moment in terms of what we will and will not accept and allow.
Everything is a balancing action that either brings us closer together in harmony or separates us more in disharmony. Rights and wrongs are polarized definitions we use to justify our positions while denying the honesty of our uncertainties. Thus it is not really about what is right or wrong, but who we within and as the decisions we make and carry out in each moment. Moments then accumulate as a matter of self-creation, either by way of consequence or self determination, these are the decisions we make.
I have learned that certainty self determination in consideration of others (even with the external consequential outflows that might accompany it) is far preferable to the certainty of unquestioning obedience and the suppression that accompanies it.