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Essay on Obedience to Authority

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Authority cannot exist without obedience. Society is built on this small, but important concept. Without authority and its required obedience, there would only be anarchy and chaos. But how much is too much, or too little? There is a fine line between following blindly and irrational refusal to obey those in a meaningful position of authority. Obedience to authority is a real and powerful force that should be understood and respected in order to handle each situation in the best possible manner.
To best understand how much pressure and stress can be caused by someone with authority, allow me to recount a personal experience. Sweating, I stood at attention in front of the flight Captain and my training instructor Staff Sergeant Garr. I wasn’t quite sure how I got here, and now I was being asked to lie to the highest ranking officer I had ever met. Two choices were available to me, lie and take ownership of the mistake, or stand by my principles and suffer the consequences. Let us start a little farther back in the story. I had joined the Air Force in May of 2004, and that same month I was sent to the Military Entrance Processing Station in Minneapolis, MN. This is where you are put through a battery of tests, ranging from tests measuring your physical capabilities to your ability to read aloud. It takes place over 2 days, and upon successful completion you are flown to San Antonio, TX to enter Basic Military Training.
Here, in BMT, I found myself, weeks later, being questioned by my Training Instructor about a discrepancy in my medical records. There is a test that is done before you leave for BMT, a simple test that measures your ability to lift deadweight from the ground to above your head, known as the X-Factor. SSgt Garr h...


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...xander, and Stephen Reicher. “Beyond Stanford: Questioning a role-based explanation of tyranny.” Bulletin of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology. 18 (2003): 22-25.
Milgram, Stanley. “The Perils of Obedience.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum”. 9th ed. Ed. Laurence Behrens and Leonard Rose. New York: Longman, 2005. 313-324.
Szegedy-Maszak, Marianne. “The Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal: Sources of Sadism.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum”. 9th ed. Ed. Laurence Behrens and Leonard Rose. New York:Longman, 2005. 302-304.
Zimbardo, Philip G. “The Stanford Prison Experiment.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum”. 9th ed. Ed. Laurence Behrens and Leonard Rose. New York: Longman, 2005. 344-355.


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