Authority: What Does it REALLY Mean?


authorityThe Meriam Webster Dictionary defines Authority as:

  • : the power to give orders or make decisions : the power or right to direct or control someone or something

  • : the confident quality of someone who knows a lot about something or who is respected or obeyed by other people

  • : a quality that makes something seem true or real

Somewhere along they way the word authority has become a negative word.

A few weeks ago an officer friend of mine walked into a classroom and was startled to see a poster on the wall stating “It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” He went on to say that with the current social climate, the quote made him feel incredibly uncomfortable.

Recently, our country has become terribly misguided. To say that someone has authority does not mean that they have absolute authority, it does not mean that we have somehow lost our free will, and given them control over us.

“All leaders require authority to act or to tell other people to act, particularly in the profession of arms. Early on in a leader’s career, authority, granted by the institution, is emphasized through one’s commission, the Constitution, the U.S. Code, rank, position and orders. Over time, however, good leaders begin to establish their own authority, their personal authority to lead others based on the kind of people they are as well as other factors, such as experience, competence, education, personality, relevance and personal maturity. Institutional authority is always required, but tends to be understated as personal authority builds.” GENE KAMENA, “Moral authority: Internally generated, always tested and fragile”, Maxwell-Gunter AFB, May 2, 2014

Without authority, without police officers and limited government, without parents, teachers and religious leaders, our world would quickly crumble into chaos.

The human race needs guidance. We need to be taught. We need to be reminded what is right and wrong. While we are aware that the world is not simply divided into good and evil, black and white…it is obvious that we need to have rules, and we need people who will help ensure those rules are followed.

Authority should not be blindly given…and those who misuse it should be punished.

“To question authority productively, to question authority wisely, we need to realize that to question something really means to seek an answer, and that ultimately authority is never really separate from us, it is us.” STEVE NOWICKI, convocation speech delivered to Duke University Class of 2019, August 19, 2015

american flagWe need to teach our children to respect those who help to uphold the authority of our society. Their parents, police officers, teachers, and our military and president. We are called to be active in our communities to ensure that those who are put into these roles are truly good people.

In November we have an opportunity to elect a new president. I beg of you to not be blinded by the media circus, and the grandiose gestures. Instead, look at the real issues, and think long and hard about who you plan to put into this position of authority.

“The peaceful transfer of authority is rare in history, yet common in our country. With a simple oath, we affirm old traditions and make new beginnings.” GEORGE W. BUSH, First Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 2001

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Copyright: olegdudko / 123RF Stock Photo
Quotes gathered from

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