“But those who suppose that obedience in all things is required, or that responsibility in political affairs is transferred from the subject to the sovereign, reduce themselves to a great dilemma.
“It is to say that we must resign our conduct and our consciences to the will of others, and act wickedly or well, as the goal of evil may preponderate, without merit for virtue, or responsibility for crime. …
“If the government directs you to burn your neighbors property, or to throw him over a precipice, will you obey? If you will not, there is an end to the argument, for if you may reject its authority in one instance, where is the limit to rejection? There is no rational limit but that which is assigned by Christianity and is both rational and practicable.
“We think then that it is the business of every person, who believes that was is inconsistent with our religion, respectfully, but steadfastly, to refuse to engage in it. … Let them be willing to avow their opinions and to defend them. Neither let them be contented with words, if more than words, if suffering also, is required. If you believe that Christ has prohibited slaughter, let not the opinion of the commands of a world induce you to join in it.” ~Leo Tolstoy
Obedience to Authorities
Tolstoy is correct in saying that there must be limits to blind obedience to everything some authority or government official tells us to do. We have seen this recently in the United States with the insurrection being encouraged by the president because his narcissism would not allow him to admit he lost reelection in a fair election. Those who attacked the U.S. Capitol building are surprised in many cases that they are being arrested and thrown in jail. They think because an insane president told them to do it, they are not responsible. But blindly accepting orders from others does not relieve any of us from responsibility for our own acts. Continue reading “Obedience Should Never Be Blind”