To obey, or to rebel?

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To obey or to rebel or not to care

Aurora Mazzoldi, Interazioni chiuse (closed interactions), acrylic painting. To obey, to rebel, or not to care?
Aurora Mazzoldi. “Interazioni chiuse” (closed interactions), acrylic painting on canvas.

To obey or to rebel or not to care. This is a topic in the “How to choose well” section of this site. These are the three major ways in which we react if someone forces us to do something:

If we don’t want to do it, we will rebel and want to push that person away. Or, we bow our heads and obey to please them or because we are afraid to say no. But, inside us, we feel, in both cases, that we don’t want to do it.

To obey or to rebel; that is the question.

But there is also a third way, that of ‘who cares?’ Do we really give a damn, or should we hide our rebellion? And then, have we tested what we would like to do or what would be convenient for us?

Do we have other possibilities?

Sure! Here is a fourth way, that of Philomena who:

  • Does not obey
  • Does not rebel
  • Does not avoid taking care

How does Philomena act?

“… It was only when I realized one day that I am an adult, and I choose how I want to behave, that I realized my conditioning. And, all at once, I felt delivered from my obligation to his wishes. Now, finally, I allow myself a good glass of wine every now and then and I can enjoy it, too! … 

How did Philomena get out of her situation?
By asking herself: ‘Am I doing what I want, or what my father wants?’
Others, rather than asking this question, may instead rebel. But is that how to win the right to be “free”? Rebellion can be useful to amend an annoyance in the short term, but if we don’t come to a complete understanding of the situation and its causes, we will not find a solution to the source of the problem. As we saw at the beginning of this book, Eva (who rebelled) was just as conditioned as Ada (who conformed).

Rebellion is another scheme

Those who rebel yield to anger and exasperation which, once calmed, can often leave a void which the person does not know how to fill. So, perhaps they take refuge in some other scheme, possibly even opposed to the one they are fighting, in order to regain confidence. In fact, reacting by rebellion often leads us to follow a pattern contrary to that which is imposed on us – even if it is not good for us.
Am I choosing to do what I want to do, or what someone else doesn’t want me to do?
It is not a question of selfishness, but one of following our own aspirations, instead of submitting to (and, perhaps, fighting) the judgment of others.”

(From: “The Power of Targeted Choices” by Luis Pisoni and Aurora Mazzoldi, Amazon, 2020. Rules and Limits, pg. 169-171.)