The Virtue of Obedience

Obeying is the first thing we learn to do, but then it is also the first thing we forget as we grow up!!

Yet obeying makes us strong, hardens our heart, gets us used to choosing, giving priority. The first thing that, when born, life teaches us is to give up, not to be able to have everything we want, and however much we can hit the ground, we are immediately taught to get in tune with a story that was before us, and it will also be after us, a story that is not us, even if we can build it, change it, make it more beautiful or uglier.

I was struck by a true fact reported in a newspaper: a restaurateur has rewarded families with well-behaved children, who are at the table composedly and do not roam around the restaurant, annoying other customers and the work of the waiters.

A small gesture that evokes a great need: to teach good education and obedience.

Nobody obeys anymore. Children do not recognize their parents, except in the spurious dimension of friends. Pupils mock teachers, often backed by overly protective fathers and mothers. The civic sense, that is to obey the common good and respect it as the patrimony of all, has been evaporating.

Obedience is, also, essential for a good coexistence.

However, the feeling is that the issue of good education, albeit slowly, is regaining its share, as an indispensable requirement for a better lifestyle and for better community relationships, not just family ones. Very well, I would say.

But a good education is a point of arrival, often complex and certainly linked to various factors (including social, environmental, anthropological), among which I would like to add the need to have a compass, within which, there is also the cardinal point of obedience. Obey in order to become polite, not out of respect or yielding to authoritarianism.

Obeying can become a virtue again. In the phase of the eclipse of the long cycle of the ego, when for decades we thought we could do without the “us” and decide everything ourselves, even the rules of morality, we can rediscover the value of obedience. An obedience that we can define as active, which belongs to those who accept the command they consciously obey, by choice and by conviction, because they identify with it, transforming the command from external coercion into an internal ideal. An obedience whose first ingredient is that it is the fruit of an act of freedom, so it can be said that only those who are free can truly obey.

A very energetic Pope requires it when he dismantles, piece by piece, the centers of power of the Roman Curia.

Obedience is needed in political parties, as well as in governments. Without discipline, without rules, and therefore without the obedience of the minority to the positions of the majority, politics crumbles and becomes only a power struggle with no holds barred and with self-destructive effects.

And the need for a family returns in which, without authoritarianism, but with the authoritativeness that belongs to the parents, obedience is a shared rule, and not the object of a daily negotiation between parents and children, with reciprocal exchanges.

Active obedience belongs to those who are willing to gamble their lives in the name of an ideal they believe in, right or wrong. Active obedience presupposes a process that is little practiced today such as idealization that passes through the internalization of the norm.

Obeying does not mean being cowardly, not having a straight back, giving in to transformism. Rather. in Latin the act of obeying does not at all coincide with silent and fearful acquiescence, but rather derives from the verb ab-audire which indicates the ability to listen, and to distinguish what one must listen to compared to what one decides not to listen. A choice of healthy humility (in times of rampant narcissism) and effective openness to others. Two things, humility, and openness, which we need very much.

Obedience to history, to situations, to life is the true great obedience, perhaps the most tiring because at times it comes inexorably and does not seem to give us time even to breathe. But in the end, it is also the true teacher of life: it is thanks to it that we can learn true freedom, that of the heart, of the mind, of a will that day after day learns to let itself be molded (not alter).

Obedience, that is, the ability to listen and adhere to a situation with the heart, frees us, makes us light, embellishes us. It is not a question of saying yes without flavor and without responsibility, on the contrary!

To obey is to freely choose to give value to something other than myself.

To obey is to use your conscience always and in any case.

To obey is to remain open in the heart, knowing that you have done everything possible, accepting that others may be right.

To obey is to wait patiently, making sure that the future, when it arrives, can still find us awake, ready, and able to respond.

To obey is not to disappear, but to become transparent. It is not going away but staying silent even if.

To obey is to listen, to open the heart, to grow in trust.

Comments are really appreciated! 


Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo is a lawyer and teacher of law & Economic Sciences, "lent" to the finance world. He has worked, in fact, 35 years long for a multinational company of financial service in the auto sector, where he held various roles, until that of CEO. In the corporate field, he has acquired skills and held positions as Credit Manager, Human Resource Manager, Team leader for projects of Acquisition & Merger, branch opening, company restructuring, outplacement, legal compliance, analysis and innovation of organizational processes, business partnerships, relations with Trade Unions and Financial Control Institutions. After leaving the company, he continued as an external member of the Board of Directors e, at the same time, he has gone back practicing law and was a management consultant for various companies. He has been also a columnist for newspapers specializing in labor law, automotive services and work organization. His interests include human behavior in the organizational environment, to the neuroscience, the impact of new technologies, the fate of the planet and people facing poverty or war scenarios. He loves traveling, reading, is passionate about many sports, follows the NBA and practices tennis.

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