Opinion

Does authority always win?

Sandy Holthaus

Does authority always win? A friend asked me to think about this and give my opinion on the matter. I just couldn’t get my head around the concept until I was put under the scrutiny of authority on a recent road trip.

My son Jack, my parents and I decided to take a road trip to Las Vegas. Yes, that is 48 hours of windshield time plus two additional hours sitting on the freeway waiting for AAA to bring us gas in the middle of nowhere. Before we left, I laughed and said we all pay our own traffic tickets. Well, the authoritative joke was on me because I fell into a $185 speed trap.

I had just exited the freeway where the speed limit was 80 mph. I quickly slowed on the exit to 51 mph but didn’t tromp on the brakes fast enough to get to the 30 mph tiny town speed limit. Ugh….I was caught, and authority was about to hit my bank account hard.

He was not sympathetic or understanding to my situation. I wanted to argue, especially when I witnessed four other patrol cars pulling over cars straight off the exit. It was a banner day for tickets in Rawlins, Wyoming. I thought of all the arguments and justifications as to why I could not make a 50 miles per hour reduction in my speed within a freeway exit ramp without throwing my passengers through the front window.

I sighed…authority had me, and they were about to win. I smiled as I took the ticket and wished the officer a nice day. He didn’t respond. I am sure he could read between the lines that I really wished him a very bad day in my mind. My son was ready to argue and stand up for me. This was clearly an injustice to him. I had to explain that this was a case that authority had to win. There was no other way out of it.

But does authority always win? What about the refs at a basketball game? Coaches can argue the calls if they do it respectfully. Even the fans participate in asking them to “open their eyes” or “do you need to clean your glasses?” Or my favorite…how come there are eight players on the other team? That gets them going. Sometimes it works, and the refs watch the players closer, or they focus on calling the game fairly. Sometimes it doesn’t, and the parent who is the loudest gets kicked out of the game.

When I think of authority, it’s not usually me vs. them mentality. I believe if you disagree with authority, work to change the policies. Or better yet, educate yourself to become the authority.

Respecting authority is a life lesson for all of us. Without people here to enforce the rules, we would live in chaos. Knowing when to step back and knowing when to respectfully speak up is the greatest lesson we can hand down to our kids. If you spend your life “fighting” authority, you will find it a hard path to follow. Just listen to John Mellencamp.

“I fight authority, authority always wins,
I been doing it since I was a young kid.
I’ve come out grinning,
I fight authority, authority always wins.”
~ John Mellencamp

Taste of Home columnist Sandy (Anderson) Holthaus lives on a farm in South Haven, MN with her husband, Michael, and their children Zoe, Jack and Ben. Her heart remains on the North Shore where she grew up with her parents, Art and LaVonne Anderson of Schroeder. She enjoys writing about her childhood and mixes memories with delicious helpings of home-style recipes.


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