What would you do if someone in authority told you couldn’t do what you knew to be the right thing? Is it better to obey the authority or disobey the authority and do the right thing?
My daughter considered the options and opted for the latter.
She’s grown up with computers, cellphones and recycling. The first two have become necessary evils in my world, but recycling has become a practical way for the entire family to care for creation. We started composting last year and recycle everything we can. The schools have recycling bins, and encourage the staff and students to recycle as well.
But when there are special lunch days (when you can order a sub sandwich from a local shop), you are not allowed to carry anything out of the lunchroom unless it’s in their lunchbox (which they don’t have since they ordered their lunch for special lunch day). So on those days, hundreds of recyclable bottles get tossed away.
Except one bottle. Bethany said she asked the lunchroom monitor if she could carefully carry the bottle to the bathroom to dump it out to recycle in class. She was told she couldn’t even though she explained why she wanted to do what she wanted to do. She told me she thought about it and figured it was better to sneak the bottle out the lunchroom and recycle it.
We talked about her taking the issue up with her teachers and principal and finding ways to make special lunch days fun for the kids and better for the earth. We talked about how she felt unheard and dismissed by the lunch monitor. We talked about trying to honor God, and I told her how it’s exciting to hear how thoughtful she is about the day-to-day things (we’ll ignore the state of her room right now),
But was she right to sneak the bottle out of the room for the sake of going green? What rules have you broken in order to do what you thought was right?
I would opt for obedience to authority over defining for oneself what is right unless it is in violation of some specific God command, in other words, if it’s a sin. Fortunately your daughter has a great mother who can help her think these things.
As a Chinese person I’ve often wondered about this in relation to both parental authority and other authority.
The more unusual thing is that my dad especially is wont to question authority, particularly in relation to the authority of regimes that to his evaluation lack legitimacy. It’s also obvious to my family that doing something wrong just to comply with government authority is still wrong.
But when it comes to parental authority, you know how it is: the same as everyone else. Not that my parents have told me to do anything patently wrong, but it’s easy to connect it to caricatures from the Singaporean movie I Not Stupid.