Hathaway Brown School
Instructor: Scott Parsons
The Importance of Disobedience
The Importance of Disobedience
Nearly every member of the human race disobeys a rule or law at some point in their life. This disobedience could be as simple as saying no to a parent, or as severe as committing a crime. Children are taught from a young age to follow every rule that is put in place in their lives, whether it be a rule created by adults, or a law created by the federal government. However, disobedience is a crucial aspect of any learning process. Through disobedience, humans can gain better knowledge of themselves and the world around them. Oscar Wilde's claims are correct in that disobedience is valuable and promotes progress, both internally and societally. Disobedience allows one to develop an understanding of their own ideals, as well as challenges the ideals of society.
When someone disobeys, it causes them to question the ideals that are rooted inside of them. They may ask themselves questions such as, "Why did I feel the need to disobey that rule," or "What were the consequences of my disobedience?" The answers to these questions can vary from person to person, but when one develops answers, they will have a greater understanding of the way in which they view the world, societal norms, and laws. This disobedience does not need to be on a large scale, though. It can pertain to rules within a small section of one's life. An example of small-scale disobedience that is frequently seen at Hathaway Brown is students who do not complete their homework for a variety of reasons. If a student does not complete their homework, and were to ask themself "Why?", they may find out something about themself that they did not previously know. This could be that they value their sleep schedule over the completion of a math assignment, or that they are trying to send a message about the workload that they receive at school. Whatever the reason may be, they are learning valuable information about themselves and what they value in life. This information could not be obtained without their actions of disobedience.
Larger-scale disobedience has the ability to challenge society as a whole, especially when people are disobeying a rule or law that they see as unreasonable. An example of such circumstances are the Black Lives Matter protests that occurred over the summer of 2020. Many cities implemented curfews, prohibiting protestors from being on the streets past a certain hour. However, large groups of people chose to disobey these curfews, and continued their peaceful protests. In this situation, they felt the need to disobey the rules put in place because they were fighting for a cause that they strongly believed in, and wanted to gain the attention of people in positions of power. This type of peaceful and moral disobedience also grabs the attention of bystanders, causing them to dig deeper and develop their own opinions on the situation. In this situation, it painted the protestors in a good light (to most people), as they had the courage to break rules in order to fight for their cause, but breaking these rules did not put anyone in danger. The adamancy of these Black Lives Matter protestors caused sweeping change across the country, as multiple states have implemented police reform, and the issue of police brutality was brought to the attention of the entire country. It has also allowed the movement to gather more support by catching the attention of those who were not previously involved, causing them to educate themselves on the situation and possibly join the movement. Large-scale disobedience is crucial to societal progression.
Disobedience is an extremely important aspect of growth, whether this growth be internal or societal. It raises questions, causes people to think deeper, and has the ability to bring about change. Most historical changes in this country were brought about through some level of disobedience. However, it is important to remember that disobedience does not need to be violent or malicious. Without some level of rule-breaking, the world would remain stagnant. It is disobedience that brings issues to the attention of people in power, which is why it has become such a crucial aspect of the developmental process of both individuals and communities as a whole.