… if so, I want to sell you the Eiffel Tower. Trust me, I’m a doctor.
subject: How Authorities Have Failed You (and What You Can Do About It)
I may have been called to the dean’s office more than anyone else in my medical school class. Meeting with the dean isn’t something you should boast about. She meets with you when there’s a problem or an issue.
The issue with me is that I am not very good at following authority. I like to push my boundaries. I don’t ask for permission, I ask for forgiveness. Scratch that. I don’t ask for forgiveness. Instead, I argue why I am right.
I wasn’t always like this. I wasn’t so independent nor so “rebellious.” Authorities used to love me because I was so obedient. But that all changed. After 20+ years of obedience, I realized that I have been fooled. Most people in authority have failed me. And most likely, they have failed you too. They don’t have your best interest in mind. Rather, they’re out to help themselves.
Lemme give you a few examples …
I still remember my first day in college. It was 8:00 AM, on a warm September morning in Boston, MA. My first class was in Boston University’s School of Management, or SMG for short. (Among the students, SMG also stood for sex, money, and greed … which is actually not too far off the mark.)
My business teacher was a middle-aged, Caucasian woman with short, blond, curly hair. She confessed that she previously taught English, and therefore, has no experience in business. So basically, I paid a whole lotta money for an English professor to teach me something she has no clue about. She is an authority, who has no right to be one.
This happens a lot more than you may think, especially if colleges and universities can get away with it.
After a year and a half, I transferred to one of the top business schools in the US. Goodbye sex, money, and greed. Hello cornfields.
(If you want to read more about how schools have failed you, I have written about it in much depth here.)
When I was a child, I used to wanna be a cop. As a protector in blue, you’re one of the good guys. You get to catch bad guys and make the world a safer place.
Now, I’m not so sure if that is the case anymore. It seems like they are serving the government, instead of serving society. Whenever I see cops these days, at least half of them are giving out speeding tickets.
When I first started in this job 30 years ago, police work was never about revenue enhancement, but if you’re a chief now, you have to look at whether your department produces revenues. That’s just the reality nowadays.
- Michael Reaves, police chief
Between the officers and the traffic light cameras, the revenue generated by tickets skyrocketing higher and higher each year. According to Car and Driver …
Take, for example, the metropolitan Detroit area, which has been reeling economically much longer than has the rest of the country. The number of moving violations issued has increased by at least 50 percent in 18 communities in the metro area since 2002 — and 11 of those municipalities have seen ticketing increases of 90 percent or more.
Speeding tickets are a huge source of revenue, especially for municipalities and cities drowning in debt. Authorities have warped the motto of “to serve and to protect” to “to take and to ticket.” Law enforcers have changed to mob enforcers … pay up or face the consequences.
As you make your way up the law chain, you come across the courts. The original intention for courts is to interpret and to uphold the law. But now, judges, lawyers, and everyone else involved aim to make money rather than dispense justice. This causes the fabric that holds society together to unravel.
For example …
Jailing someone because he cannot pay violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. But cash-strapped towns and cities have resorted to jailing debtors, in an effort to draw “blood from a stone.” The choice is to pay the debt or to go to jail. And of course, throwing people into jail costs money. In total, municipalities lose more money from jailing people than from the debt they can collect — which costs taxpayers even more money in the long run.
Don’t even get me started on family courts. They can forcibly remove fathers from their children, home, and assets. They can then force fathers to pay alimony and child support. And if the fathers cannot come up with the money — say from losing his job — he could be thrown into jail. (Again, jails cost money.) So instead of allowing the man to work and to add to society, he is forced to idle and to burden it instead.
When I was in high school, I was a good kid (in my opinion, at least). I went to church and pretty much sat in the front pew every Sunday. As a self-proclaimed good kid, I cannot help but fall asleep … right in front of the speaker.
One Sunday, there was a guest speaker. He was an elderly gentleman, a bit rotund, with a head full of white hair. And of course, I fell asleep in front of his face. There was nowhere to hide. I really tried to stay awake but I couldn’t. I tried to open my eyelids, but they were too heavy.
I remember going into and out of dreamland. In the brief moments I came out of dreamland, I heard the speaker trying to cast the devil out of me. He looked straight at me, pointed at me as if to warn me sternly, and said, “In the name of Jesus, get out! Devil, get out!”
The “exorcism” didn’t quite work, as I went back to sleep. My parents were mortified.
So when a sleep-deprived teen cannot stay awake for a sleep-inducing sermon, blame the devil and embarrass the poor boy’s family.
This is a very silly story. But worse things have happened in the name of Jesus. When trivialization of divorce, sexual abuse (think Catholic priests and altar boys), or financial abuse takes place, it is certainly no laughing matter.
(The good thing about my childhood church was that the teachers urged you to read the Bible and find out the truth for yourself. This way, you won’t be led astray.)
Ever since you were young, authorities told you that if you studied hard in school, got good grades, and graduated from college … you’ll get a nice, stable job with a deep-pocketed employer. But when you leave school and enter the real world, your degrees and plastic trophies mean nothing. Even if all you want is an entry-level job, you aren’t qualified for it (at least according to some ditz in the human resources department). Your resume doesn’t have the right keywords, and you don’t have a master’s degree.
If you’re a bit older, you got your job during an era that measures your capabilities, not on how many hoops you can jump through. The big boss tells you that if you dedicate your life to the good of the company, it will take care of you.
But when the company falls short of Wall Street’s expectations, and when big boss needs to make his bonus, he will sack you without a second though. He tells you, “Thank you for your 20 years of service, but you are no longer required. Here is your gold watch and severance pay.”
In Bachelor Pad Economics, Clarey wrote about how employers wanted the password to your Facebook account before hiring you. If you post anything that they disagreed with, you will get fired. That brings me to my latest visit to the dean’s office. My school’s authorities did not like my speech — one that was posted on my personal Facebook account, on my personal time, using my personal computer. I was threatened to remove it or face the consequences. Let’s just say I don’t respond well to threats, especially one that violates my freedom of speech.
Authority Must Be Earned, Not Given
Do not jump to trust authority. Trust must be earned. Authority must be earned.
Now I’m not telling you to rebel for the sake of being a contrarian. Everything you do must have a purpose. But as you can see, authorities will fail you. And when they continue to fail you and refuse to change, it is time to reject them.
Spectators, lemmings, and timid men will accept authority without question. They will follow authority to their demise. But they are not the ones who shape the world. Rather, the catalysts for change are gladiators, bosses, and power players — who all do what is right by them.
Be the gladiator. Be the boss, Be the power player. And do as the wise men in my childhood church instruct:
Cultivate your desire for truth. Find out what’s real for yourself. Teach yourself. Live and die with purpose. And throw out the false teachers and wayward “leaders.”