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It is puzzling sometimes how the words ‘order’ and ‘authority’ have somehow managed to gain negative connotations in our society today. No one likes to be under authority these days, and the idea of ‘order’ or ‘routine’ quickly gets knocked down by the more exciting ‘open-minded’ and 'free-spirited' culture of doing whatever we want, when we want to. Even children these days need to be given an explanation for their parents’ instructions before they decide whether or not to obey. This attitude then carries on into educational settings, where they then find it hard to do as they are told, because teachers no longer have ‘authority’. We then wonder why some people struggle to keep a job or make progress in life.

Before this starts to sound like an advert for dictatorship and the loss of basic human rights, I should say that, as a woman, I am completely in support of and have even enjoyed the benefits of freedom of speech, equal rights and social justice. I believe that everyone has a right to express their opinion considerately and for it to be respected. The opinions of children, employees and citizens are not worth less than those of their parents, employers or national leaders.

I am just amazed at how negative attitudes to authority can be at times. The mere mention of authority can make people feel uncomfortable, and sometimes even provokes a desire to rebel. The idea of order and hierarchy quickly meets with opposition or reluctant conformity. We all know organisations where order and hierarchy are extremely important to their functioning, and I am not suggesting that we all live like army recruits. My aim is to just to find the balance, if possible.

If you believe in creation, you will know that God created the sky before creating the birds. He also created the sea before creating fish. Man was then given authority over the animals. That way, there was order and a home for every creature made. These days, we want to have children before we have a stable home for them to come into. We want to have wealth and status before gaining wisdom and experience. We want to answer to no one, and still have someone to blame if things go wrong!

One of the few places I know where order works well is in a good hospital, where different professionals (doctors, nurses, pharmacists etc) have responsibility for different aspects of patient care. Hospital staff often insist on only working within their own area of competence to avoid taking responsibility ‘beyond their pay grade’ or risk losing their license to practise. The routines, hierarchy and hospital management systems exist to help ensure that patients get the right treatment promptly and safely. I wonder if things would work better in our homes if everyone knew and valued their different roles, so that parents are not avoiding responsibility and constantly trying to become best friends with their small children, wives are not trying to steer the ship independently and men are not trying to be 'looked after' by their wife-turned-mother.

There are sadly several examples of situations where people have trusted authority which was later abused, but those incidences do not make authority a bad thing in itself. There is peace and stability in order, especially where people in authority are accountable, systems are reviewed regularly to ensure that they are still contributing to the well-being of everyone involved, and people are willing to change, if necessary, for the greater good. Children actually thrive better with boundaries and routine. In the words of Jesus Christ, "the greatest must be the servant of all". If we truly understand how much service and responsibility authority really entails, we will not crave it so much for ourselves, but rather, appreciate our leaders more. I am sure that most people give way to emergency vehicles, pay taxes, respect traffic rules, respect their bosses etc, but it is our attitude towards authority, law and order that really matters. Just a thought!

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