Monday, July 17, 2017

The Point of Dissent

When I was young, my mom used to tell me things like, "Don't rock the boat," and, "Don't speak up; it won't do any good," and, "Just go along; it's easier that way." This was never an idea I was able to buy into, even at a young age, probably because I had a string of really great teachers from 4th through 6th grades, teachers who taught me that it was not just okay but good to question authority.

Don't get me wrong; I don't mean questioning authority just for the sake of questioning authority. I mean that you don't accept something just because it's being told to you by someone "in authority." Of course, the fact that I grew up in a house where my father expected to be believed "because he said so" didn't leave me very inclined to think anyone in authority knew what they were talking about.

By high school, I was quite adept at "asking questions" when I thought the person in authority was wrong. That translates into, "I was very good at pointing out when the person in authority was wrong and asking for the data." This was something that especially happened at church where I found out that in most circumstances, because I did my own studying and research, I was the authority on whatever subject we were studying. More so than any of the Sunday school teachers, more so than the youth pastor, and more so than even the pastor in many instances. It was very common for both my pastor and my youth pastor to say to me, "I'm not going to tell you you're right, but you're not wrong."

I felt good about bringing these things up, about dissenting with what was being said, because, frequently, it led to a redaction of false information and/or a correction of what was being taught.

Which brings me to the point of dissent...
It brings me to the point of dissent and, more specifically, why you should bother.
(And I'm not going to elaborate much here; I'm just going to go through the points I want to make.)

1. Dissenting can cause people to take a second look at the information being offered and catch errors that might not otherwise come to light.

2. Dissenting in a matter of a position (such as a political or moral position) [see this series of posts] clearly states which side you are on, which can be incredibly important [just ask all of the Republicans in a couple of years when they lose their spots in the House for not standing up to Trump].

3. Dissenting can give others who agree with you but who are staying quiet the courage to stand up along with you. Sometimes, it takes only one person to stand up and do the right thing to give other people the strength to also stand.

Look, folks, we're at a crux in history. It's not a dissimilar crux to that of the one that caused the American Revolution. There are a few corrupt but rich and seemingly powerful people in control, but there aren't really that many who agree with them, even among those who supposedly agree with them. It's time to dissent.


  1. I'm one of those people that plays by the rules. I know the rules were just made up by other people that preceded me, however, I don't really care about that. The rules are as they are so I play by them. If other people want to upset the rules and change them, I encourage them to do so. However, I won't support that personally. I'll just play by the rules should they ever get changed. I guess what I'm saying is that...where dissent is concerned...I won't get in someone's way but I won't help out either.

    1. Michael: But the rules state that you have the right to dissent. I mean, seriously, that's one of the most foundational rules of our country and our democracy. In fact, you can't have democracy without dissent. So I would suggest a brief review of the First Amendment so that you know what the rules are.

  2. One of the things I've learned over the years is that a lot of people don't like children disagreeing with them. Which of course means that as adults, they've already learned not to rock the boat.

    1. Jeanne: Society likes to churn out automatons, but it's our responsibility not to be those people.

  3. As a kid it never occurred to me to question authority. I was never taught for or against it. I grew up in Orange County, CA (which you probably know is very conservative). I grew up liberal. I'm not sure when I realized that I disagreed with the politics of many of the people around me. By high school, I think.

    It's funny looking back on it now. I never fit there, yet I managed to find my tribe. I still don't know how I didn't get indoctrinated by my surroundings. And I was not one to "rock the boat" and question authority. (Although, when I knew someone was full of it, I just didn't trust them.)

    1. Liz: I actually learned to question authority at school. I had one great teacher (in 6th grade then again in 11th) who really stressed not ever just accepting what someone says because they're in authority.