Hippo City

James Eric Prichard

My little brothers and sisters are real babies. Even the ones who are in college and should be doing drugs, don’t — or at least that is what I am assuming, since I never call them. Whenever I try to talk my siblings into using drugs or stealing or doing something similarly cool, they protest on legal grounds. Someone (probably Mom) has brainwashed them into thinking that you should and should not do things based on the word of Uncle Sam (or Uncle State or Uncle Municipal Government).For some, the “because I said so” argument rings hollow. Rosa Parks did not listen to “because I said so,” nor did the original American revolutionaries. They questioned authorities and when they believed the authorities were wrong, they contradicted them. Their contradictions and the contradictions of others have influenced the current authorities and created a new status quo, and this status quo owes itself to their disobedience. Disobedience, then, can be a good thing, and to blindly obey and never consider disobeying is both cowardly and foolish.

Unfortunately, many Lawrentians fall victim to the “because I said so” argument. They hear an authoritative proclamation for or against something and let the proclamation dictate their actions. Do they forget that they are paying for a liberal arts education? They are supposed to learn how to think and, more importantly, how to question, yet they refuse to question authorities, letting them command their daily lives. Learning how to question a scholarly status quo is of a much lesser importance than learning how to question those who would determine our existences. Making choices for yourself is an integral part to being liberally educated, and those who refuse to question authority cannot truly say that they are.

And yet many here would adhere to a law simply because it is in place. For them, the government’s “because I said so” is good enough, no questions asked. If you analyze a situation and determine that the benefits of an illegal action are outweighed by its detriments, you have questioned the proclamation. You can even factor the legal consequences of lawbreaking into your decision. You are still questioning the situation. Many do not question in the first place, however. They neglect to take the first step demanded of a liberally educated individual. The liberally educated person should question the propriety of indulging in marijuana, caffeine, unprotected sex and heroin. To leave decisions such as these to external authorities is to deny one’s freedom and intelligence. The possibility of reaching a dangerous conclusion should not deter you from questioning.

Some might argue that if people believe authorities to be incorrect, then they should try to change the mandates instead of act contradictorily. Ignoring the fact that this route is not always possible, the above individuals only partially exercise their freedom. They question authority, but still allow authorities to dictate their lives. They attempt to change the “because I said so,” but refuse to act against it. If their attempts at change fail, they resign themselves to following instructions with which they disagree. If the issue is crucial and they still allow themselves to be instructed, then they voluntarily lessen their own vitality and freedom.

You can refuse to question authority and live as an automaton if you want to. You should not, however, call yourself a student of the liberal arts, for your capacity to question, make choices and act independently are greatly reduced. You should also not be surprised when intelligent, curious individuals refuse to take your “because I told you so” as a definitive command. They are not children, and you are not their mother.