Remember saying this to your sibs, or if you have kids, hearing them say this to each other? I do, both ways. Been thinking about what triggers the statement and the emotion behind it. Knowing that another person is not superior but acts like it, has no real power to make you do anything, but boy howdy, do they try.
This is a verbal standing up when slapped down, speaking when yelled at to be quiet! Feels good, sort of, and stirs up all kinds of anger, resistance, out-right rebellion, righteous as well as self-righteous indignation. ‘Cause some people set themselves up as An Authority, A Power. But what is authority? Seriously. What does that even mean?
According to my favorite dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary of the English language, the word authority means the right and power to command, enforce laws and exact obedience or a public agency with administrative powers limited to a specific field, as well as an accepted source of information or advice in a given field, or arena of influence.
Kind of a mouthful, or more exacting, a mindful.
So an authority has the right and strength to make you do what is commanded, because they know stuff about the subject at hand? In kid talk (where most of us actually operate) if they are bigger and know more stuff, you gotta do what they say. Yucko.
In the classic television show, the Honeymooners, this situation is laid out crystal clear. The husband yells at the wife, “I’m the boss and you’re nothin’!”
“Yeah. Then you’re the boss of nothin’.”
Everybody wins that round. Everybody loses that round.
But there is another source to the meaning of Authority. The word authority (in English) is used over 30 times in the Bible, with 9 different definitions. Some refer to given authority, concerning positions, political and emotional, and in one case it really means to dominate. As in we aren’t permitted to do so. Most of the meanings have to do with strength, firmness and mastery.
So it sounds like the one in authority has a greater responsibility to help everyone else deal with life for everyone’s benefit. Hmmm. None of this, I’m the Boss and you’re Nothing, because when I do that, I actually prove I am nothing to speak of.
Ouch. Both ways.