Obedience: On Being Sheep

Soror Samekh Rosae


The concept touches every aspect of the human life cycle. From the time of toddler-hood, human beings are taught obedience: beginning with "don't touch that" and toilet training, to letting one's obnoxious Aunt Susan plant a kiss on the cheek when she visits. There are rules on every side, rules of which people must be conscious, which people must observe - to stay out of trouble, to be accepted... to be "saved".

Just as obedience is part of every life, having an "authority" figure to supervise the activities of humans who supposedly know no better is a recurring and constant theme throughout history. Those who have held the answers to life's complex questions usually fall into this role. Or, at any rate, those who declare themselves as having the answers. And, naturally, those who seek the answers will turn to such people (or, as history developed, groups) to be told the whys and wherefores, and how to live.

Mainstream religions have taken excellent advantage of this historically proven practice. Even preceding the era when Moses received the Ten Commandments, and the "high priest" sect were instituted in the Jewish religion, a hierarchy of some type could be found in the various belief systems, which filtered rules down to the masses. Long before Jesus Christ was seen as the "shepherd" and his followers "the sheep of his flock", the people following the majority of religious paths have fallen into the role of sheep.

And, more's the pity.

What kind of life is it when a person follows the will of someone else, disregarding the talents, skills or instincts within his or her own soul? A good case in point: religious orders of men and women in Christian churches (Roman Catholic, primarily), who profess vows of poverty, chastity and obedience - giving up their "worldly" aspirations for "salvation". That type of surrendering one's will to the whims of another is extremely unhealthy in a psychological sense. To "bury" one's true self beneath a layer of obedience - whether enforced or voluntary - cannot be tolerated by the subconscious. Rebellion will occur, at some point, for those whose natural tendencies bend toward personal strength. This rebellion may manifest is a variety of ways, but the event will be life-altering in the majority of cases, and call for psychological counseling, medication, or other treatment.

It cannot be denied that many "sheep" are perfectly content to obey the dictates of their respective religion, or their corporate superiors. Such people need a wake-up call, desperately. They tend to "float" through life, wasting the 70 or 80 years of their existence, achieving nothing - especially nothing that would amount to the realization of their individuality, their need to be unique. Their need to "find the self" is completely ignored, as others tell them what to believe, how to behave, how to feel.

Those who realize there is more to life than following whatever shepherd is in vogue have a difficult time of it. They have the understanding of the self necessary to take great strides, but are held back by a society which will collapse upon them like a ton of bricks for each "infraction". Spitting in the face of the corporate world is seen as "communism". Raising an emphatic middle finger at organized religion rates one a hasty damnation to hell. Raising one's voice for true justice, or for Truth in general, rates loud opposing cries for silence, for the status quo. The sheep don't want changes made. The sheep don't want their imposed lifestyles challenged.

Yet, by believing those in authority over them, these sheep never glimpse the truth, in any incarnation. They are fed political rhetoric, and sop up every word like gravy with their mashed potatoes. This political rhetoric does not just come from politicians, either. Corporate executives use this approach to better line their pockets, while keeping their subordinates ignorant of what goes on in the board room. Religious leaders are masters of the art, feeding their congregations huge helpings of garbage at the weekly church services. The hoards in the pews relish this trash as if it were a gourmet meal.

For those who may leave their job at the end of the day feeling totally ill-at-ease with how the past eight hours have been spent, or who walk out the church doors nursing a sensation of spiritual emptiness, it is their own subconscious urging them to look deeper, to find the Truth within themselves. It is only by leaving "blind obedience" behind, by climbing the mountain the big shots have banned as "too dangerous" (or some equally innocuous mandate), by asking the questions no one wants to hear, that forward progress can be made - that the sheep break free of the pen and see the potential and meaning of life.

If such independent views meet with opposition, the cry should increase in intensity, not be silenced. If society tries to rain on the parade of one who is truly seeking, let the water run off, as it happens with ducks.

There are many - many Pagans, in fact - who have already stepped out, or who are waiting for the right moment to step out, and thumb their nose at the mounds of dung shoveled at humanity on a daily basis. Let this be heard to all corners of the universe: there is no "right time". The only time is now. And if this moment passes, there may not be another.

Human beings are not sheep. It is not the lot in life for people to surrender their individuality to self-proclaimed, ordained, elected or hired authorities. Obedience is a concept that must be broken and transformed, and this can only be done when the Truth is seen by each in his own time. But if each one does not take that time, obedience will remain the fate of the sheep, and humanity will never realize all it has lost.

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