Monday, October 12, 2015

Respect for authority is an essential part of life.

Respect for authority is an essential part of our lives.

You interact with individuals in positions of authority on a daily basis. This starts at home with your parents and includes your contact with teachers, coaches, public servants, law enforcement officials, and others. Such individuals often provide guidelines for behavior and enforce limits. For example, at a job, your supervisor has the authority to direct what you do and how you do it. Likewise, the principal of your school has the authority to set the times for classes and dress code requirements.

In short, authority is everywhere! And even more obvious, everyone, including you, is subject to it.

It’s important to understand that rules and limits and the people who enforce them are dedicated to providing order in our lives. If there were no stop signs, every intersection would be a mess and it would take an enormous amount of time to get from one place to another. Likewise, if there were no laws about shoplifting, few stores could stay in business to provide goods and services to all. Again, authority serves a purpose.

Since authority and limits are everywhere, it is confusing how some individuals react to authority with anger. For example, you may have heard stories from friends that suggested that a state trooper was waiting just for them to give out a speeding ticket. Somehow, it became a personal vendetta when they were confronted with breaking the law. Often, such individuals are angry with themselves and place the blame on the person in authority rather than take responsibility themselves. Obviously, speed limits are set by law and there are numerous signs to remind us what the limits are.

An equally scary attitude is displayed by individuals who see themselves as above the law. Some even find humor in disobeying the law. For example: "I sped all the way home and didn't get a ticket." In other words, I broke the law. Such views are irresponsible and convey the absurd idea that you and your behavior are more important than the rights of others. Accidents caused by reckless drivers are often the result of such irresponsible attitudes.

As noted in previous blogs, you have a choice about who and what you choose to respect. Take an honest look at how you view authority figures and decide if you relate to them in respectful ways. Likewise, evaluate your attitude toward laws and limits. Do you consistently obey the rules that have been established to serve society? Do you see yourself as someone who is above the law? Finally, do you make fun of our laws and the officials who attempt to enforce them?

Remember, you have a choice about respecting people, behaviors, and properties.

The REAP Formula reflects key considerations for growing in healthy ways.  The letters stand for Respect, Empathy, Appreciation, and Politeness. Learning to embrace these traits provides a blueprint for respecting yourself, relating to others in positive ways, and personal growth.

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