We hear this term many times, but what does it actually mean? Authority is the power to determine a course of action through a shared perceived sense of proper judgment. Observers accept authority figures as a reliable source of information, advice and guidance to determine their own course of action. Anything on a screen, whether a computer or television is an electronic representation of authority. When our intellectual guard is down and our emotional reaction is up figures that appear on the ‘screen’ have a subconscious perception of being those with ‘authority’.
During college I decided to take a class inSymbolic Logic. The professor told our class that we would be using a part of our brain that we had never used before; and that it would hurt. He was right. He stated that most people don’t think; they emotionally react. Again, he was correct. Over the course of the class I struggled with critical thinking until I embraced it completely. I desired to be an accurate observer and not be emotionally swayed by those with ‘charisma’. It wasn’t easy deprogramming myself from the accepted wisdom of my family. After all, when I was 18 I voted for Nixon. Big mistake. Later, I went to seminary school to learn more about my beliefs and the beliefs of others.
Being fascinated with Deductive Logic, I decided to investigate Inductive Logic. The professor who taught this class was a Ph.D. whose knowledge was incredible. Our final assignment for the class was to view the pep rally at the college football stadium where President Reagan was giving a campaign speech. The professor obtained an advanced copy of the speech and we were to break down the language by the principles of Inductive Logic and compare ‘how’ the speech was delivered at the pep rally to determine exactly what President Reagan said. Statements from him like, “What a great land, this country of ours!” drew massive cheers and arm jabbing. However, to my surprise, my analysis revealed he had said NOTHING! He was emotionally riling up people to ‘react’ to what he was saying instead of challenging what he was saying, He was a master communicator and knew which buttons to push on the average ‘reactive’ person. Another lady and myself were the only ones in the class to get A’s on this assignment. When I turned in the assignment I wasn’t sure that my analysis was accurate but soon learned that it was.
Years later, I watched a TV program with Rush Limbaugh and saw the same style of rhetoric against Bill Clinton. I tuned in every night and had a good laugh because he was actually FUNNY. After his TV show died a miserable death, he ventured back off again into radio. As the years went by he became more and more abrasive. He had mastered his baritone voice, the cadence of his word delivery and the descriptive terms that were just slightly above the understanding of his audience. Most magazines and successful talk show hosts target their words and speech to a 7th grade reading level because that’s where the average mass audiences’ level of comprehension exists. Rush is a master at appealing to a non-discerning audience who don’t, and won’t, investigate what he says. He is an authority figure because his voice is heard in mechanic shops, offices and homes every day. He is hammered into your head as the ‘voice of reason’ when in fact he is the ‘voice of repetition’. He AND his advertisers know this and use it to sell products and services. If you advertise with Rush, advertisers know
When you go to the store or shop on the Internet you are automatically drawn to that product or service and you don’t even know why. Rush has been consistent over the years and advertisers loved him. Every day he brought attention to their products and services with sensationalism and authority until he went over the line. He insulted a woman who WASN’T a public figure. Not only has he opened himself up for a slander and defamation of character lawsuit, he has now drawn attention to the fact of his own MAJOR character defects. His ‘brand’ is now tainted and the backlash is enormous. He has attacked a single college woman who has a right to a private life, even though she testified before Congress about her personal situation. He called her a ‘slut’ because of what he ‘thought’ was her lifestyle. He placed himself as her judge, jury and executioner. He revealed his flaws and condescension because he allowed his anger to control his delivery.
Just like Pat Robertson, the older he gets, the more he lets things ‘slip’ without thinking them through. Rush gave a half-hearted apology that the woman didn’t accept because she knew it wasn’t sincere. She used her discerning mind to pinpoint the maneuver he was trying to pull. Why do you think Rick Santorum made the comment about people attending college? Is it because he doesn’t want them to have a discerning mind by learning critical thinking? His comment was aimed at a non-educated base to move them emotionally. Rick Santorum has a B.A., M.B.A. and a J.D. He went to school for many years and learned how to manipulate people by what he says and HOW he says it. He is another master communicator of partial facts designed to motivate people on an emotional level.
In all fairness, so is Obama. He knows how to motivate people as well. The difference is that he spent years educating himself and helping his community realize the goals they sought. In order to develop a discerning mind we need to learn how NOT to emotionally react to what people say. We need to analyze what they say based on the merits and not the technicalities. Don’t be swayed by those who are in positions of authority. They don’t live your life or walk your path. Use your mind to sift through the facts and allow your heart to feel whether or not they are telling the truth. Talk to others and understand their feelings but always come to your own conclusions based on the facts and NOT someone else’s opinion. Your survival and ability to thrive will depend on it. Not only yours, but every else’s as well. Choose wisely and make the guidance of the Spirit of God your true authority! ~Dean A. Banks, D.D. (Spirituality Guidance Channel)