I took a Psychology 101 class last semester and we were asked to view an experiment entitled as Milgram Experiment (or at least, that’s what it was famously named).
In the experiment the subjects were asked by the scientist, or the administrator, to give a certain amount of electrical shock to a subject s/he just met that day in the other room. As the experimentation continues, the shocks become more amplified, and the subjects were observed of how they reacted, and how they subjected their will to administrator who was watching over them. It was considered one of the most controversial experiments due to its psychological pressure through obedience to a higher authority. And it got me thinking.
What drew me into the experiment (and what made me search all the other controversial experiments overnight) was the fact that there was no force involved. No one was hurt on a physical level, but the experiment proved to give severe stress to its subjects. The test was supposed to be intended as a study of the World War II, but i think it still proves to be applicable today.
Authority, to me, is a fear. It’s a control, may it be physical or not, and is quite harmful to not only the body, but the mind. Several things come to my mind in this aspect, one of them is the past.
There are a lot of cases pertaining to abuse of authority especially during the era of colonialism, (i have quite an interest in this since I come from a colonized country in the 1600s), wherein the colonizers terrorize and see indigenous and local people as beneath them, or inferior to them to the point of slavery. Another is of war, wherein the losers are subjected to the winners of battle.
More pressing issues comes in the present, with cases of domestic violence and even abuse of women of people in higher powers, may they be the clergy or government officials. A Google search pertaining to these issues will tend to cover a lot of ground, but since this one came out a few days ago, might as well include it.
As with the video above, this sense of authority is flawed as well. Women are viewed as the abused and men that are abused are not only frowned upon, but laughable and embarassing.
What comes from all this is not only the perspective of the weak and the lower, but also of the perceived “higher”. What do they get from the authority they inflict on others? Is it fulfilling? Do they think about it consciously, or do it unconsciously because society provides them that right? Does the label, may it be official, teacher, boss, owner, provide them that right? Or is it really just the existence of a lower tier that they find this power?
I’m not saying that all authority is unjust. Sometimes leaders and directors are just needed for a cohesive output. But when it crosses the lines of morality and ethics, then it’s another issue. A lot of people say it is unfair, our world. But aren’t we also the ones that set those standards?