The dichotomy of obedience and disobedience lies at the core of human existence. The creation of laws in society implies some type of agreement to follow the established rules, thus obeying a certain power. At the same time, changes in these systems come from disobedience, when the laws are challenged, questioned, and modified. The reasons for challenging the existing system usually appear when an individual or a group feels that their place in society is not equal to others or that their lives are unjustly influenced by another entity with social power. Therefore, resistance can be necessary for circumstances of injustice when obeying means going against one’s beliefs, putting others at risk, or allowing for the exploitation of one’s pain.
First, disobeying may be a positive act that is crucial for supporting and reinforcing one’s ideology. As Fromm notes, resistance is vital for the spiritual and intellectual development of humanity and individual human beings (1). For example, in a conversation, a simple disagreement may be an act of disobedience if the two individuals assume different positions of power in society. Here, resistance may be courageous, especially if it has an underlying cause of obeying one’s own beliefs and principles. Roderique provides an example of such disobedience by refusing to diminish her Black joy in a conversation about a movie with a predominantly Black cast (1). Her emotions about the film cannot be challenged because they are based on a deeply personal reaction.
Second, resistance is vital for protecting those put at risk by the established system, and any act of disobedience against such large entities is brave due to its difficulty. The power of the State, for example, is presented by the rulers as endless and omniscient (Fromm 4). However, as it is not always benevolent to people equally, those who are underserved must resist improving their lives. Going against the status quo requires bravery as it may lead to the disobeyer losing connections, power, and the source of comfort that societies provide (Fromm 4). However, the need to protect one’s life and the safety of others inspires courage and pushes people to uproot the existing order.
Finally, one’s resistance can be a positive force against oppression and limited and unjust representation. For instance, as Roderique notes, media about Black people often centers on Black characters’ pain rather than positive emotions and experiences (3). As an outcome, Black people’s lives are portrayed as an endless cycle of struggle and pain. An expression of joy on screen, therefore, becomes an act of disobeying the usual views about Black culture. Thus, it disarms the sources of power in the media and enriches the depiction of Black people not as stereotypes but as realistic human characters. Such acts of resistance can go beyond this example and be seen in other media and help other groups take control of how they are seen by society.
To conclude, disobeying is a vital source of power and positive transformation for those who encounter injustice. Resistance is necessary to uphold one’s beliefs and emphasize the place of one’s emotions and experiences in the world. Moreover, acts of disobedience are the basis of changing harmful laws and norms. Finally, resisting can help people gain control of how they are viewed by others, especially in the media, where a small number of people dictate how different people are portrayed. Overall, acts of disobedience with a cause to confront injustice can be the main catalyst for change.
Fromm, Erich. Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem. Harper & Row, 1981.
Roderique, Hadiya. “The Case for Black Joy.” Fashion, 2019. Web.