Authority

crown

There are a lot of things I don’t feel qualified to talk about. I don’t have a graduate degree, so what insight do I really have into any issues of mathematics or engineering? I haven’t worked as a game designer ‘professionally’, so what are my insights on game and level design worth? I don’t know what it’s like to be non-white, non-male, non-American, so how can I say anything of value outside of the bounds of privilege afforded to me by that position?

It’s very difficult to have a sense of perspective about one’s place in the world without being smothered under it.

This is partially Imposter Syndrome. Realistically, the sole measure of whether I can comment relevantly and meaningfully on something is whether other people find my comments relevant and meaningful. It’s not for me to decide whether something is Important, only whether it is Important To Me.

It goes beyond that though. I don’t just abhor authority in my own voice, I distrust it in all its forms. I simply do not like, do not trust, do not heed authority.

However, I am not antagonistic towards authority figures. Quite the opposite, I am usually friendly and polite – exactly as I would be towards anyone else. I am perfectly willing to accommodate any reasonable requests they may make in order to do their job. The moment they begin giving orders, though, I can get… ornery. The second they stop relating to me as a human being, and instead relate to me as their underling, I shut them out.

I cede to no one the right to treat me that way. Orders may be necessary in urgent situations where lives are on the line, but outside of those rare cases it’s tremendously disrespectful. That kind of authority, and the people who wield it, are a poison.

But I digress.

We are bound by authority’s oppression from two sides: From the outside, pressing us in place and from the inside, holding us in place. We are told by others and by ourselves that we have no right to talk about certain things, because we have earned no ownership of the truth behind them. This is absurd. We have not yet discovered a truth so final that it could never be disproved. Anyone who claims to hold a final and unassailable truth is building on a foundation of sand. They know this, and fear its implications, so they invent authority to keep the questions away, to keep themselves safe.

Authority is a weapon. Its sole use is to defeat those who would challenge you with a sharp dose of bloodless violence.

If you say something from a position of ignorance, you may be embarrassed, but it’s that lack of knowledge – not a lack of authority – that causes you embarrassment. All that authority would do is allow you to lash back against those who justly call you on your foolishness. Mutually assured social-intellectual destruction.

All anyone can do is keep their eyes open and try to learn as much as possible. Rejection of authority is important, but the most important authority to reject is your own. That authority is a cowardly shield, the desire for it denoting a flimsy confidence in the merits of the beliefs it would protect. Do not cultivate a need for it within yourself.

Communication is words touching another human mind and passing new ideas. Authority, forever, will only be shield, made of heavy clear plastics, pushing questions away, dodging the truth, in service of an absent ‘greater good’ that can never and will never be defined.

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