Life is a lot easier if you just do what you’re told. Before you get your panties in a bunch, I’m not saying that we should all follow blindly, particularly when we are asked to do something immoral or unethical. I’m talking basics here like:
In my science classes, I encourage and foster curiosity. Science has always been driven by curiosity, therefore I allow for a mega-ton of questions; both practical and philosophical. However, there are also those times where you just do what I ask you to do. I’ve got a whole presentation that I walk through on the first day of school listing out our procedures; and while I could go in and explain why I use each procedure, I don’t. First, it takes too much time. I’ve spent 17 years teaching and have developed my thinking over that time. I’m not going to use a half hour of my classroom instructional time to discuss best practices for bathroom breaks in a middle school science class. But the bigger issue is that I need my students to trust me.
There’s an element of trust there that I don’t see as much anymore. I would say we’ve lost it as a culture, or hopefully that we’re just losing it, but I don’t think that’s accurate. I think we are giving it away…the relationship between trust and obedience. When Mr. Smith asked or told me to do something, I did it. Why? Well first, because he was my teacher, but really, it’s because he was a standup kind of guy. I knew he had our best interests in mind. When Shihan Melanson or Kancho Soller tell me to do something, I do it. I don’t ask why. I don’t ask for their reasoning. I don’t need to understand; I trust that they’ve got our best interests in mind.
I’ve written before, paraphrasing Eric Metaxas, that we live in a society that is constantly looking for the worm in the apple. Almost immediately after someone is presented as honorable, we begin the witch-hunt, searching for the skeletons in their past, or the deeds they may have done decades ago. We have cultivated a culture of distrust and in doing so, we’ve built a legacy of disobedience. I’ve seen it. I’m seeing it. I’m a teacher after all. In the classroom and in the dojo, I’m on the front lines of this aspect of the culture war. We aren’t going to win unless we can prove ourselves to be trustworthy.
There you have it. While obedience is the fruit that we can observe, it is very often rooted in trust and the trustworthiness of the relationship. As my legs will tell you right now, budo karate does aim at strengthening the body, but we are more concerned with building strong people. Through our training in the dojo, we are building the kind of character worthy of being trusted. We are forging character that is capable of leadership.
Obedience is about “them”. Trust starts with you. You need to work on you.
Get to the dojo.