The Problem is Civil Obedience

In this video from three years ago, Matt Damon reads from a 1970 speech by Howard Zinn, author of “A People’s History of the United States,” in which he calls us out, as citizens, for our blind obedience to authority in the face of topsy-turvy value systems which have presented themselves as our reality.  He uses examples from history to highlight the dangers of too much obedience to the state.

The excerpt of this speech really gets your gears turning.  At least mine.  It makes me look and wonder where I have been obedient all this time, without merit…obedient to systems of thought I was taught by large institutions, either religious or educational, obedient to social standards of behavior, especially for women, or just plain old obedient to my own fears which told me I shouldn’t step out of line or be different…because that would somehow get me in trouble.

Now, I’m not necessarily advocating for civil disobedience in the traditional sense, but I challenge you, as we enter 2017, where can you become less obedient in your own life?

How can you break down and disengage from the “rules” as they were taught to you by your family or society?

“We were not born critical of existing society.  There was a moment in our lives (or a month or a year), when certain facts appeared before us, startled us, and then caused us to question beliefs that were deeply fixed in our consciousness-embedded there by years of family prejudices, orthodox schooling, imbibing of newspapers, radio, television.  This would seem to lead to a simple conclusion: that we all have an enormous responsibility to bring to the attention of others information they do not have, which has the potential of causing them to rethink long-held ideas.”

– Howard Zinn, 2005

What would it take to bring more freedom, outspokenness, and disobedience in your own life in 2017?

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