No, this isn't a Bad Batch review (though it's totally awesome so far and you should absolutely 100% go watch it). It's just a good illustration of some things I've been thinking about lately.
Good soldiers follow orders.
How often do you make your own decisions? And I'm not talking about whether to wear a green shirt or a blue one today, or whether to eat eggs or a blueberry muffin for breakfast. I'm talking about real decisions. Ones that affect what you believe, how you live your life. And how often do you just do X because someone in authority or someone you respect said so or because you've been taught just to obey without question? How often do you personally test the things you've been told before you adopt them as your own belief?
I know most of us like to think of ourselves as rebels, as independent thinkers, but how many of us are really? And how many of us just pick which authority we want to follow and trust that if we do what they say everything will turn out fine?
I see it everywhere, good soldiers following orders. People getting outraged because the media said to be outraged over said thing. People complying because a supposed authority said this will keep them safe, even if it's directly contradictory to what was said last week. People raising their kids according to a strict standard of rules because their religious leader said if they do that their kids will automatically turn out great.
And you know what? It never seems to turn out the way they say. Instead, more and more rules and regulations get piled on, people just accept more and more, until they find themselves in a disaster and wonder how that happened. It's because good soldiers follow orders. And because, like the proverbial frog in the boiling water, it happened gradually. They never start with the things that are blatantly wrong.
None of us actually have inhibitor chips conditioning us to follow orders without question, though sometimes I wonder. Because it does seem like a lot of us have been conditioned to follow one authority or another without question.
I'm not saying that all authority is bad. I'm not saying "children defy your parents" because that's obviously unbiblical. And I'm not even saying there aren't situations where it's important to obey immediately without asking "why?"
In fact, when I was little, probably about four or so, I got the "obey immediately" lesson. We were out in our backyard when my parents told me to go inside immediately. I, being the person I am, asked "why?" They made me go inside anyway, invoking the story from Little House where Ma slapped a bear and told Laura to go inside immediately (and Laura did it). Turns out, there was a skunk outside and obviously my parents didn't want anyone getting sprayed by a skunk. (No one did, thankfully.) And there are situations far more dangerous than getting sprayed by a skunk where it's important to obey immediately. My sister's example is of when Maul tries to run over Anakin with a speeder bike.
That said, it was never really an "obey now, end of story." It was "obey now and it'll get explained once this immediate danger is past."
If it's always and forever "Just because I said so" no one learns to make their own decisions. No one learns how to have discernment. Everyone's just, well, sheep.
Because the truth is, there is only one absolute, infallible authority. And that's God. Everyone else, well, news flash, they're not right 100% of the time. Even the wisest, most knowledgeable, most spiritual leader gets stuff wrong. And reality is, most of the leaders people follow aren't the wisest, most knowledgeable, most spiritual people. They're just the most convincing people who are great at marketing. And often they're doing it for power and money. Just look at all the prominent people with huge followings that have big scandals come out.
"But my leader isn't like that!" you might protest. "He's wise and studies the Bible intensively and really cares about me." Or "my parents are great, and they've been great role models and I really trust their judgement."
That may be entirely true. I'm not saying don't respect those people, don't listen to them, don't value their insight. What I'm saying is don't take it as Gospel truth. Don't follow blindly. They're human. They're fallible. They will get things wrong, just like you will get things wrong. Test everything according to Scripture before you make up your mind. Do your own research.
I don't know if I have any parents reading this blog, but if I do, parents, you're not doing your kids any favors if you don't teach them to think for themselves. Don't just say "this is what we believe, this is what we do because I said so." You're setting them up to fail. Teach them to test things, to use critical thinking, to do research, to compare everything with Scripture. I've seen it far too many times where kids aren't taught to think for themselves, and they end up picking the wrong thing to blindly follow.
Blindly following is the easy path. But it's not the Biblical one. You have to test everything.
"The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so."—Acts 17:10-11
"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear."—Thomas Jefferson
In short, use your brain. There are too many people out there trying to control you, misguide you, lead you astray, whether intentionally or unintentionally, for you to follow blindly. Question with boldness. Things that are actually true will hold up under scrutiny. I promise.
And in closing, I want to share a conversation from Legacy of the Force: Betrayal by Aaron Allston I found especially relevant and interesting.
Ben: I hear kids say they hate it when their parents say Do this because I say so. Sometimes I think they have it easy.Mara: I suspect they do. Of course, they don't get to run all over the galaxy and practice with live lightsabers.Ben: Yeah, I guess. But thinking is hard. And kind of unfair. There never seems to be a right answer.Luke: That's it. There never seems to be a right answer is a right answer.Ben: Oh.Mara: Watch out for people who tell you they know the right answer. They may think they do, but often they're wrong. Or they may just know that thinking is so hard, many people don't want to do it. They want a leader they can trust . . . so they don't have to do the hard work of thinking. That's one type of leader you don't want to follow.
Good soldiers may follow orders, but wise ones test them first.
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."—Matthew 10:16