Would you follow instructions from authority, even if it’s against your “better judgement” and could cause harm to others?
Back in the 1960’s, a bloke called Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment where participants were ordered to administer an electric shock to a “learner” who got incorrect answers on a test. The electric shocks got stronger with each incorrect answer until they were strong enough to kill the learner. 65% of the participants administered the shocks to the highest level when prompted to by the over-seer. 100% of the participants administered shocks strong enough to cause serious harm.
This experiment has been repeated time and again with the same results. (Derren Brown did it a few years ago, you can probably still find it if you are interested.)
So, if you answered an unequivocal NO to the question I asked at the top of this post, don’t be so sure.
I’d like to tell you I’m a bit of a rebel – in fact I’m forever singing that song that was on an advert a while ago about being a rebel just for kicks now. (Much to the annoyance of anyone around me cos I’m not a great singer and I don’t know the words!)
But really when it comes down to it, I tend to follow the rules. I have been conditioned that way.
When I was a child, if I didn’t follow the rules, I got told off. I remember being stopped by a teacher at infant school and being made to spend the rest of break time standing on my own inside the doors while everyone else was outside playing.
I don’t remember what I had done, ran up the corridor or similar I think, but I do remember the flush of shame I felt having to stand there on my own.
But for the most part, we are taught to respect the rules, because they are made to keep us safe, or to be a considerate member of society, which in itself keeps us safe.
So now, even though I think a lot of the rules we are having to follow around Covid are absolute nonsense (just my opinion, not a point of debate here!) I feel compelled to follow them and that leaves me feeling a bit conflicted.
But what is the point I’m trying to make?
We’re all comfortable with different levels of obedience, twisting and flexing of rules based on what matters most to ourselves and that’s OK.
We just need to understand that we are measuring by our own standards and give each other a little grace. It doesn’t just happen in this Covid world – it happens all the time, for example have you ever noticed that anyone driving slower than you is shit and anyone going faster is a maniac?
But now, more than ever, we need to show compassion, understanding and kindness to one another, even if (or especially if!) we are handling things a little differently.