This I Believe

Daniel - Boerne, Texas
Entered on October 12, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Every culture within a society in the world has had some hierarchal system in which one entity has more authority than another. Whether the authority is established by age or merit, there has been a chain of command in almost every person’s life. This system is a crude, but necessary, way in which order is resolved in a society. It is only made crude by an innate superiority complex that exists when authority is combined with man. If those left with authority over others go unchecked, then more power is vested in them than what is nourishing for a functioning society. Through the duration of my high school experience I learned that for the betterment of society authority should only be tolerated as a necessary evil and should never go unquestioned or seen as a sign of worth due to the likely potential of man to become corrupt.

Of all the pecking orders a society has to offer, the high school teacher-student relationship has to be one of the most degrading. When I was struggling just to go through the motions in high school this association with authority initially proved most cruel to my mentality on the matter. In my high school there was a hair code, dress code, and drug testing policy. I found it very insulting that I did not have a say in whether or not my rights would be limited in my academic environment. A vote on how much freedom I had as a high school student was determined by those on the local board of education. It was a system in which authority was vested in the hands of the few and not even to those who were actually affected in the process.

By their logic, I had not rights as a minor once I entered school grounds. Unfortunately, this mindset kept me from questioning the teachers and other adults above me without fear of persecution. The outcome would always turn out grim for me if I did not oblige by the societal code of order. Whenever I would try to thoroughly explain how hair codes are innately sexist towards males and how drug testing violated a student’s privacy, the presumption of innocence, and the fourth amendment to my 11th grade history teacher, Mrs. Higgens, I would always get a typical denouncement of questioning authority. She would usually say, “You’re too young to even be thinking about what ‘rights’ you have and don’t have. The fact of the matter is, you don’t have any until you turn eighteen years old!” I could only think of how much better my interaction with people would be if it was recognized that despite age, race, or gender that everyone is equal and no person holds more value than another.

I found it to be a travesty of the United States Constitution when I was forced to urinate into a small, degrading, cylindrical, plastic cup for the school administration. However, as a result of my negative experience I was able to learn from it and manifest a positive philosophy on the matter. Unquestionable authority is dangerous because there is no way the people subject to such power can check how far their superiors will take it. Without a justified positions of checks and balances one person can have too much clout over another. Questioning your authorities is not damaging to a society, not questioning your authorities can be. I believe in treating others how I would like to be treated myself, regardless of hierarchy. I have faith in equality.