Shall Question Authority
By Rev. Marie D. Jones
Excerpted from Looking for God in All the Wrong Places,
by Rev. Marie D. Jones - Paraview Press, 2003.
you know that there was an eleventh commandment? It got left
off the tablet because Moses broke the chisel and lost his
spare and the closest Home Depot was twelve miles away by
donkey. When it comes to professors, politicians, lawyers
and doctors, Thou Shall Question Authority. They can
teach us, they can protect us, they can lead us, they can
even cure us, and they can even get us multi-million dollar
settlements when we stupidly spill hot coffee down our shorts.
But they can't save us.
We so often look to authority figures as if they were Godheads.
We swear our college professors are the keepers of all wisdom.
We put our lives and our livelihoods into the hands of politicians
who make the laws and rules we blindly obey, even when it
gets us killed. We expect lawyers to take the responsibility
for our actions off of us and put it on somebody else, preferably
somebody with money.
We bestow Divine powers on our doctors and medical experts,
whom we beg to heal what they can really only cure. We keep
looking to world leaders to bring peace on earth when in fact
it is our responsibility as individuals to each live in peace.
Peaceful individuals lead to peaceful communities, which lead
to peaceful cities, which lead to peaceful countries, and
so on. Remember the song, "Let there be peace on earth and
let it begin with me!"
Because so few of us are mentally, emotionally and spiritually
equipped to lead, we let others far less equipped do the leading
for us. It's easier, and it takes the blame off of us, where
it belongs. We place these leaders on pedestals they rarely,
if ever, deserve to be on.
Just look at the prevalence of political and corporate lies,
secrecy, and corruption and it's easy to see why we feel so
powerless. We've given ourselves over to idiots, morons and
fools, not to mention greedy thieves and power-mongers anxious
to turn the world into their own private playground. We ask,
"How can they get away with it?" The answer is simple. We
let them get away with it again and again and again. That's
why our prison cells are filled with so few white-collar criminals
and crooked politicians. We'd rather glorify them with an
"E! True Hollywood Story" than sentence them to hard time.
Millions of people in Germany let a man named Adolph Hitler
"get away with it." Millions of Jews, Catholics, Gypsies,
and others died as a result. It was not the first time a human
was given the power to commit mass murder, and it won't be
the last, unless we wake up to our penchant for misguided
trust. Think Pol Pot, Stalin, Mussolini. We like to let people
get away with it. Victim-hood is much easier than having to
You've heard the saying, if you don't stand for something,
you'll fall for anything. We fall for anything way too often,
all because we don't have the courage, fortitude or conviction
to make waves with those in charge.
Unlike those Baby Boomer era toys, Weebles, authority figures
wobble and they DO fall down. Just turn on the evening news
and you're sure to hear about the political scandal of the
week, or the latest college professor or well-respected priest
to be caught with his pants down. It happens all the time,
whether we want to admit it or not. Leaders stumble and come
Is it their fault for not being the Divinely moral and just
creatures we so desire them to be? Or is it our fault for
expecting them to be anything other than what they are? Human.
We, the people, put up the pedestals and then we put other
people on the pedestals and when one of them shows some semblance
of human frailty, we bitch and moan and wonder why are leaders
are so morally inane, so ethically inept.
You get your butt up on that pedestal and see if you
end up any different.
In some cases, we the people even allow our leaders to commit
crimes against democracy, take away our freedom, abuse our
trust and corrupt our values, and we let them get away with
it all because they are in positions of power and roles of
authority. Question the actions of the President, Congress,
and the Judiciary? Never! We rarely call our government to
question for its abuses, and there are many. Just read the
headlines on any given day.
We even more rarely question our religious leaders, despite
growing evidence of abuse and corruption. Once someone takes
on the trappings of priest, monk or minister, the public forgets
that underneath the robes and hoods lies a human being, not
a God, with all the faults, lusts and temptations that the
rest of us face. I think now about the recent allegations
of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the news, and the hundreds,
perhaps thousands, of victims whose lives will never be the
same because of violated trust. Many of those victims hesitated
to come forth and tell the truth because of the backlash they
feared by the public, the media and especially the priests
themselves. When we dare to question authority, we are usually
asking for trouble.
We forget that authority figures are people, and so we treat
them as more important, more special and more deserving than
ourselves. We give them carte blanche with power, not realizing
that absolute power corrupts absolutely. We worship them with
our pocketbooks, give them a tenth or more of our income,
and never bother to wonder why they own three Rolls Royce's
and live in Beverly Hills, despite their pulpit message that
vanity is evil and the love of money even more so.
We become their emotional and sometimes even physical slaves,
eager and anxious to be preyed upon so that we can have someone
else to blame for our powerlessness. Just visit your local
fascist country and see what happens when leaders are given
Godlike authority over average working citizens who are too
tired and busy from making a living to see the police state
rising up around them.
Stop looking for real leadership in people. People are people.
People screw up. People mislead. People lie, cheat, steal
and make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes cost millions
of innocent people their lives. People kill, destroy, abuse
and violate. People make messes that only people can make
(you never see dolphins nuking each other, do you?).
Real leadership, real authority, comes from that still, small
voice within. It comes from the wisdom of experience, the
steadfastness of faith, and the desire to serve others. It
comes from trust and love, not blind belief and lemming-like
Follow it, and you will never be mistreated or misled.
Rev. Marie D. Jones is the author of "Looking For God
In All The Wrong Places," Paraview Press, 2003. She is also
a minister, a mom and a progressive activist who is really
disgusted and pissed off with the Bush Administration.