Why Is It Important to Respect Authority?

Respect for authority is an indicator of good mental health. Moreover, it prevents individuals from being harmed or harming others. Individuals that have a pathological disrespect for authority are known as anti-social. Although anti-social individuals can intellectually comprehend rules, they cannot understand why they should be respected. Most normal individuals have an innate understanding of why it is important for them to respect authority.

Collective Security

When individuals respect the authority of social norms or the law, it assures mutual security. When people break the law, they may harm or infringe on the rights of those around them. For example, a person that drinks and drives could cause a tragic accident. Individuals respect authority because they understand that doing so produces collective security.

Individual Safety

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Authority figures often establish rules to protect the safety of the individual. These types of rules are encountered early in people's lives, when their parents say something such as "You are not allowed to play with the light sockets." As such, people respect authority because they know that doing so will promote them from harming themselves.

Avoiding Negative Consequences

When personal or collective safety is not enough to motivate respect for authority, individuals may choose to obey the rules in order to avoid punishment. When individuals choose to ignore authority, they expose themselves to prosecution. For example, a drug dealer may care little about his personal health or that of his clients, but the threat of jail may be enough to deter him.

Mantaining Order

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When individuals respect authority, it promotes social order. This is important because it allows society to grow and flourish. For example, taxes are used to create social programs and fund government policies. As a result, there are roads, public services and more economic opportunities available.