Are You a Brainless Obeyer?

I went to eat lunch with my 10-year-old daughter at school the other day and afterwards, the principle came up to me and, with a stern voice and face, informed me that my daughter would be literally kicked out of school the following week if I didn't provide her with proof of our address.

You see we had moved recently and the school board requires proof of a student's home address for zoning purposes.

This task had slipped my and my wife's mind and I told the principle that we would go home straightaway and get a copy of our lease and a utility bill and bring it by.

I also mentioned that I thought it was kind of absurd to threaten, and even worse to actually do it, to kick a child out of school for something so trivial. A simple phone call to remind us would have sufficed.

And then, that's when it happened. That's when the principle of the elementary school uttered the most popular copout in the history of civilized society: "I don't make the rules, I just enforce them."

I have to admit: I didn't hear the principle say "I don't make the rules, I just enforce them." But rather I heard: I'm a mindless cretin who lacks the ability for reasonable thought so regardless of how absurd something might be I'll do it anyway because that's what I was told to do."

That's why I'd like to propose adding the human brain's frontal lobe to the list of useless tissue that should be removed at birth since they are no longer of any vital use to humans:

  • Tonsils
  • Adenoids
  • Spleen
  • Gallbladder
  • One kidney
  • Thyroid
  • Prostate
  • Appendix
  • Frontal Lobe

I'd start with the cops. They are the poster children for the phrase: I don't make the laws, I just enforce them. Of course when a cop says it I hear: I'm an undereducated cowboy who, if not for working for the state, would have no real skills to market and would most likely be in prison myself so I do what I'm told.

Then I'd move on to the customer service representatives at banks. The ones that look at you with that blank, robotic stare and talk in circles as you try to explain to them that you don't think it's fair that they charged you a fee for going over the credit limit on your card since the reason you went over your credit limit is because of a fee that they charged your card with. Some monthly maintenance fee or cash advance fee or "we want to undeservedly take more of your money" fee.

I kid you not: a customer service representative once told me when I asked what the "over the credit limit" fee was, that it is a charge the bank assesses you when you go over your credit limit.

Then when I asked why they charge such a fee, he replied: "because it's in your terms of agreement."

When I asked why such a clause is in the terms of agreement he replied: "because we cannot legally charge you a fee that is not in the terms of agreement."

I put my head in a bottle of bourbon and have yet to come out.

This attitude of blind compliance and self-preservation at the expense of others is found at every level of society in America. It evokes for me a vision of soulless beings wandering aimlessly through life just doing what they are told until they can retire and then finally start living the good life. You know those 10–20 years out of your 70–80 years of life when you're too old to do the really fun stuff anymore. But you do get to play a lot of cards, golf, bowling, shuffle board and be on a first name basis with the emergency services crews since they come to your trailer park at least twice a week when someone falls and breaks a hip or dies.

It echoes of a complete lack of self-reliance, self-esteem, confidence, intelligence, courage and free will. All the sorts of things it seems the people who built this country had.

But in the end, as you lay in a state-funded nursing home because your social security and Medicare are non-existent and the economy ate your retirement account; you won't have control of your faculties but at least you'll have peace of mind knowing that you always did what you were told.

You were a patriot. You never questioned authority. You never questioned the status quo. You supported the troops. And for that you left the world worse off.

February 27, 2009