MLCC Thoughts - Authority
Authority. What is it? Who has it? And…Why should I submit to it, or should I?
My working definition of Authority is the “right to command.”
Authority rests firstly in the individual. I have the right to command myself, to make decisions that directly affect me, and to act out those decisions. This is also called individual liberty. Authority has been granted to individuals to order their lives, to command themselves to seek the Best. Although people often do not know what the Best for them is, individual Authority allows them the freedom to command themselves to seek it. Except for convicted criminals, the right to command oneself must not be forcibly taken away (the right to command oneself externally is removed, but prisoners still maintain the right to command themselves internally though). Authority must not be forcible removed, but it can be partially delegated to Another.
Authority has been delegated to the individual, non-governmental institutions and the government for the ordering and well-being of society. The isolated individual retains Authority until he or she voluntarily joins a civil body politic (think government). At this point, the individual voluntarily yields some, but not all, Authority to the government. As example, the Authority to mete out punishment for violating an agreed societal norm is no longer retained by the individual, but is delegated to the government, again for the ordering and well-being of society.
Therefore, I submit to the governing authorities, because I voluntarily belong to a particular civil body politic and have yielded some of my Authority to them. It is for the ordering and well-being of society that I yield to the government. I submit to Authority for the good of all. If every person under a government held their individual Authority, not yielding it to the government, the order and well-being of the society would crumble. Can you imagine everyone doing exactly what they want, when they want at all times? Chaos!
Non-governmental institutions, i.e., business, church, family have also been granted Authority—again, for the ordering and well-being of society. That is, the individual has voluntarily delegated some of his or her Authority to these institutions. Why? Because the individual knows Authority is a necessary component of a well-ordered society. I submit to Authority for the good of all, myself included.
Why do I submit to the Authority of the police officer? Because the government has granted the police their Authority to order society well. Why do I submit to the Authority of the teacher in the classroom? Because the government has granted teachers and administers their Authority to educate. Why do I submit to my boss? Because I voluntarily granted him or her some of my Authority when I accepted the job. Why do I submit to my parents? Because Authority has been granted them to ensure the well-being of the family, to guide the children into adulthood, producing productive citizens for the good of all.
As I look at the chaos in our society today, I have to ask myself, “What happened to the concept of Authority?” In America today, it seems people strongly desire to retain their full individual Authority. The police’s Authority is not recognized. The teacher’s authority is rejected. The boss’s Authority is spurned. The parent’s Authority is ridiculed. The net result, disorder, affliction and chaos.
Authority is necessary, and it is good. And…when Authority, operating within its proper sphere, is yielded to, order and well-being for the entire society follows.