Thoughts on authority and the three forms of authority in human society

AUTHORITY IN GENERAL

Authority, as I use it here, refers to something that has a power over ones life.  This something is a natural thing that is inherent in existence (that is to say, it just ‘is’).  As a result, it is something a person cannot fight or change, typically.  It is a condition of existing reality.  It seems there are a number of types:

–          The existing fact of authority.   This is authority that just ‘is’.  These include the things like the sky, the weather, the fact you must eat, etc.

–          The variable fact of authority.  These are the changing aspects of life.  These include things like aging, events and happenings in life, a person’s emotions, etc.

–          The created fact of authority.  This is authority that is created by us.  This can refer to what we, as a person, create (such as how we look at life) or what we create as a people (such as society).  What this means is that many things we create ends up having authority over us. 

In one persepective, authority is a prison, as we are trapped within its fold.  We cannot escape its reality.  As a result, it requires our submission.  This can be difficult and lead to problems in some cases. 

But, oddly enough, authority can also be our freedom and life.  I have always felt that one of the great secrets of life is submitting to authority . . . but not just any authority.  It must be the correct authority and for the right reasons.

Authority seems to have two qualities: 

–          A force.  Authority is a force in life.  This force, it seems, has an energy quality or just a fact that can’t be denied.  This energy seems to keeps life moving.  In many ways, this energy – the energy of authority – is the energy of life.  It is life.  This is why authority is so important in life as it is life.  But, at the same time, it seems like a hard fact.  Life, for example, is a fact.  It just is.  This fact of existence is a mighty force in itself, a power that we are all powerless against. 

–          A form.  These are qualities that direct the force to different aspects of life.  Form creates specialized qualities of force that is directed to specific regions of life.  Just like some medications target specific cells in the body, the form of the authority targets specific character traits in life, giving it a special ‘dose’ of energy. 

There are many forms of authority.  Some work independently and don’t need any other influence.  Often, multiple authorities work in a concert, helping, complimenting, and supporting each other.  Some make other authorities more prominent and support them.  Some forms of authority are complete opposites, complementing other.  An example I’ve often used to describe the influences of the different forms of authority is a padded wood chair.  The wood can be compared to a ‘strong’ authority.  The padding on the chair can be compared with a ‘soft’ authority.  In this orientation the chair is a useful and comfortable chair to sit in.  This shows that by placing authorities in the correct place it creates an effective system.  By placing them in the wrong position it’s not effective.  Imagine swapping the wood and cushion around on the chair?  That would not be comfortable at all.  It’s really no different with authority.   This shows the importance of having the different forms of authority in their correct places.   Authority is most effective when it is in its correct time and its place.   When the wrong form of authority is out of time and place it tends to not be beneficial.  In fact, it can be disastrous in some situations. 

In many ways, everything that ‘is’ has authority.  This shows that authority is a condition that is part of the ‘existing reality’.  Even the smallest thing can, and has, authority.  A small blood clot can change your life, if not kill you.  When a clot appears in the right artery then it HAS authority over you!  But when its not there, it has no authority.  This shows that, with some forms of authority, there is a time and a place for it.  Only when it’s at the right time and place will it display any authority at all.  Otherwise, it’s nothing.  Everything has an authority.  It’s just a matter of where and when. 

One of the myths of authority is that authority is this big dramatic thing that towers over you.  This is because when I say ‘authority’ most people think of male-like authority, which is often very forward and dominating.  Many authorities in life are actually appear minor or insignificant, if we notice them at all.  Just because something is ‘dramatic’ does not mean that it’s the only authority there.  The ‘little things’ contain more authority than you can imagine. 

Authority can be a ‘seen’ authority but, more often than not, it is hidden.  This means that authority must often be looked for.  In some sense, a person needs to look for authority in life.  One of the reasons for this is that we take a lot of authority for granted.  This is because authority is there since we were born.  It just ‘is’.  Because of this, we don’t notice it.  Also, since a lot of authority is there from the beginning of our life, before we spoke and had ideas, we don’t look at it in a spoken or idea sort of way.  Its reality was impressed upon our minds before we knew how to think.  And there, still, hidden in the depths of our minds, rests much of our real perception of authority sitting silently in an unspoken awareness.  This reveals that authority, in its deepest form, is an unspoken awareness.  It is not words.  It is not descriptions.  It is not concepts.  As a result, do not look for a lot of deep authority in these areas.  Look in unspoken awareness.  There it lies!

Authority often requires you to do things or submit without your choice.  It can require great discipline to perform.  Authority seems to demand discipline, it seems to require it.  This is one of the reasons that make authority difficult.  It’s also one of the reasons why people avoid it and flee it.  Discipline takes much from us, and that’s not always easy.  There are times, even, when the demand of authority is simply too much for us to deal with.  It can be impossible to handle.  These happen from time to time. 

But, oftentimes, you must submit to authority on your own choice, of your own free will.  With some types of authorities you cannot benefit from it unless you choose to submit.  Submission to authority often reveals a whole new reality that you didn’t think was there.  Often, the realization of authority makes the world come alive.

There are many ‘pretend authorities’.   These are authorities that we think is an authority but isn’t.  This can come from a number of sources:

–          Many are truly false that are deliberately trying to fool us.  This is like advertisement which is trying to trick you into buying things.  We are all tricked by some ‘pretend authorities’.

–          Many are a result of misunderstanding on ones part.  We all misunderstand authority in some way, mistaking one for another and such.

–          Many are a result of our ignorance.  These are ‘pretend authority’ that is our own doing.  We create it to serve our own purposes oftentimes. 

Now, in the modern world, these ‘pretend authorities’ run rampant.  We’re bombarded with so many things that we can’t tell what is true or not.  This is why it’s good, nowadays, to look into ones life and try to determine what is an authority and what isn’t.   I think you’ll find that things are not what you think it is.

AUTHORITY IN HUMAN SOCIETY

It seems to me that human society has three forms of authority.  Each version of authority is needed and each must be maintained.  A failing of any authority can lead to problems.  These three forms are:

  1. Fatherly/male authority.  This form of authority tends to be authoritarian or commanding in nature.  It has the quality of being directed.  It can also be very forward and forceful.  In addition, it is very active in the world.  It is a protecting authority and stands like a wall against the bad aspects of life.  It tends to give a shape to things, to give things meaning.  It tends to look at the world and life as a whole.  It tends to be ‘at a distance’ and impersonal.  This form of authority also entails fear.  As a result, punishment is often seen here.  This is the image of authority most people think of when they hear the word authority.
  2. Motherly/female authority.  This tends to be supportive.  It tends to seek growth.  It tends to be nurturing in nature.  It tends to focus on specific things in life (like a person or a family) and does not have the overall life scope found with fatherly authority. It tends to be intimate and personal.  It tends to not be forward or forceful and often appears ‘in the background’.  As a result, it is often overlooked.  Overall, fatherly/male and motherly/female authority tend to have opposite characteristics. 
  3. The authority of the ‘children’.  The ‘children’ refer to what we produce in life.  The ‘children’ could mean actual children but it could also mean anything we create in life.  This could mean the building of a house, the cooking of food, the creation of a happy meaningful life, or anything else we make. Life, really, is all about the creation of ‘children’ in their many forms. 

I compare humanity to a three legged stool.  Humanity stands as long as all three legs are there.  If one leg is broken or removed then the whole stool, including the other two authorities, fall. 

If a form of authority is distorted it weakens society.  This is one of the reasons why things like feminism has been so destructive, as it distorted the image of the mother and female, actually weakening their force in society (despite what the feminists say).  In so doing it weakened society (the three legged stool).

I have always said that the greatest of the authorities and, in many ways, the most important is the authority of ‘children’.  It is the ‘children’ who give the other two relevance and meaning.  It is also the produce of the other two authorities.  In general, most of the effort of the other two authorities is to create the ‘children’.  By its creation, it also sustains the other two authorities.  But it’s interesting to note that the ‘children’ are helpless and always in need.  Anything that you create requires your attention to make it relevant and ‘alive’.  Isn’t it ironic how this most powerful of authorities is so weak?  In a way, that is its power.  The power of the ‘children’ is that they make the other two authorities do something to maintain it as if by magic.  I’ve always said that if you want to see power watch how parents sacrifice and go through great pains for their children.  And, remember, the child does not ask for it . . . the parents just do it!   That’s power.

Many religions actually embody these three authorities, at least in some form, as a necessary part of life.  We must remember that not only do these reveal social aspects of humanity, but the social aspects are just a projection of the human character.  In other words, these three authorities have aspects to each one of us deep within.  We all need and have these aspects of the three authorities within us.  They are part of our makeup.   

In many ways, participating and living with authority is what makes up life.  A person does not and cannot ‘live’ unless he participates and lives with authority.  This is because authority is the ‘force’ of life.  It is what makes life and what life consists of.  Therefore, learning to live with authority is critical in life.  Is it any wonder why the worship of Gods is so important in human society?  Worship, really, is nothing but the acknowledging and accepting of authority in ones life.  This aspect of human life, which is largely forgotten in the modern world, reveals the importance and power of this theme of authority in life. 

I feel that it is good to occasionally reflect on, acknowledge, accept, and submit to certain authorities in life.  It’s a part of the embracing of life and its power. 

I truly believe in the old latin saying:

Sine auctoritate nulla vita (without authority there is no life)

This entry was posted in Life in general, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Religion and religious stuff and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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