Ground-Truthing: Responsibilities of Leaders and Followers Thought Experiment 2.4.2

What does the conflict between obedience and conscience show?  Clearly one of the things we see in Milgram’s experiment is moral Decay and moral Growth in conflict.  Surely we do not want to ignore how difficult it is to say no.  Saying no is incredibly difficult when it appears that everyone else is on the other side of an issue.  And even harder if the “authorities” are on the other side.  Yet . . . the subjects of Milgram’s experiment did what they knew was wrong because those in power told them to or perhaps gave them an excuse – but they still knew it was wrong and ultimately their consciences would not let them ignore this.  This is no small lesson.  What is the responsibility of those in authority, of the leaders?  What is the responsibility of the followers?

Thought Experiment:  When are you in a position of leadership in family, work, social, civic, religious, or political groups?  What is your responsibility to your “followers,” of any age or position?  Does your responsibility to other leaders override your responsibility to your “followers”?

When are you in the position of a follower?  What is your responsibility to the leader?  Why does a responsibility exist?  What is your responsibility to your fellow followers?  In what situation does your responsibility to yourself take precedence?  How could you recognize when this happens?

Phyllis Ballata

Without Words We Cannot Think

“You who govern public affairs, what need have you to employ punishments?  Love virtue, and the people will be virtuous.”  Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), “The Bean Field,” Walden (1854)


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