For most of us, we learn to obey at an early age. Parents use a variety of methods and will go to great extremes to teach this lesson; it’s important for the survival of the child and for the sanity of the parent. It also serves the child well with respect to getting what they want while they grow up. The problem is that it does not always serve us so well in society after we have grown up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the opposite of obedience is always better, not at all. Reasonable laws and rules should be obeyed. But there really needs to be some critical thinking involved; some laws are not right and sometimes obedience will not get you what you want. Sometimes it is important to disobey. Many wise men in history have made the point that good people are morally obligated to break bad laws.

It is as important to know what your rights should be as it is to stand up and demand those rights.

In dictatorial, oppressive regimes around the world and throughout history — where the consequence of disobedience is often death — it is not easy or even recommended to defy the authorities, especially if the effort will be in vain. But for those of us who live in countries that are supposedly free, we owe it to those who have sacrificed, worked, and in many cases died for the freedoms we do have, to not just blindly obey. Freedom to obey is not what our forebears went to war and were willing to die for.

Besides, in a free country just blindly obeying can result in worse things happening for society as a whole than the individual consequences for disobeying:

After dozens of generations of living in a ‘free’ country,  the majority of citizens aren’t aware of the importance of consistently challenging public servants who are elected to the fragile position of holding the public’s trust. Instead, they obey to avoid repercussions or disobey in secret while living in fear.

‘Public servants’ conveniently forget what their role is intended to be. Instead, they see themselves as holding power and being in charge. They have evolved a system of governance that insulates them from accountability and one whose design allows them to be influenced by private and personal interests. Instead of working to protect the public purse, they work to increase the government’s coffers by implementing fines, fees, and taxes for everything they can think of so that they can use our money to protect those private and personal interests.

Nowhere is this expenditure of tax dollars to protect private interests more evident than in the case of attempting to prohibit certain drugs. The ‘War on Drugs’ is a protection racket that increases drug-related gang activity, provokes demand among rebellious youth, exacerbates drug abuse issues, and foments disrespect for all laws, even good ones. The actual costs to the public are incredibly high but hard to calculate.

Drug prohibition is the most glaring and obvious example to me that we are not free. Using the criminal law against free people to prevent them from ‘harming themselves’ is an abomination and a serious violation of the natural rights of all adults to not be bullied, especially by public servants.

Human beings have an extremely powerful need to be and feel free. Parents, for example, use reverse psychology and create boundaries to deal with the natural desire of their children to rebel. Seeking out restrictions and smashing them is job one for teens. Many adults grow out of this, they go along to get along, but there are also many educated adults who continue to stand up against bullies and laws that violate our natural right to be free.

In any instance of legal prohibition people have defied the law in secret while living in fear of their public servants. But those adult rebels fight, and eventually prohibition ends.

Activists trying to legalize cannabis have held smoke-outs and rallies where the law is peacefully broken in public for over four decades. There have been many arrests but credit for the gains that have been made must also be given to those brave enough simply to attend rallies and protests.

The fight for freedom has never been more crucial as our government gets more and more sophisticated in controlling us and keeping us obeying them and the corporate forces that they themselves obey. Without us continuing to fight for freedom, I fear for future generations.

So the next time you find yourself just blindly obeying or heading to the closet for a puff, think about the freedoms we do have and how important it is to stand up, disobey, and demand that public servants respect the freedom we deserve and that previous generations fought for. Lest we forget, they died for our freedom.