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Obedience Destorys Essay

1203 words - 5 pages

Wars, and other appalling events, happen all the time because people allow them to happen. Nobody ever thinks to question their leaders when their leaders could in fact be wrong. Nonetheless, we follow like sheep and do as we are told because that is all we know: letting those “above” us dictate our decisions. Howard Zinn says, “historically, the most terrible things-war, genocide, and slavery-have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience.” When one processes this quote, they realize that some of the most horrendous things that have taken place occurred because citizens, soldiers, etc. were following their leaders’ orders. Opposing viewpoints blame disunity and disobedience for political disorder. However, Zinn’s statement about obedience stands correct because historical events and social norms stand to defend his assertion.
Historical events show that obedience does not end well. During the early 1930s, a man named Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany. He declared that he would save the Germans and their floundering economic state. The citizens of Germany heard this and were ecstatic; finally, somebody was going to help their country. Of course, like any other problem, there had to be a cause. Hitler blamed Germany’s not-so-great economic standing on the Jewish people and the only way to make Germany better was to annihilate them. As a result, the Nazi army was born which in turn massacred hundreds of thousands of people, known as the Holocaust. Hitler was kept in power because people showed him respect and obedience; nobody dared to defy him or not follow his orders. Every one of his followers did not question his thought process or why it was just the Jews who were being targeted. Another example of how terrible things happen due to obedience is in 1519, when Hernando Cortes decided to invade what is now Mexico in search of gold. Cortes, followed by his trusted men, met a group of Mexican natives called Aztecs. The Aztecs welcomed the Spaniards into their city of Tenochtitlan, present day Mexico City. After finding out that the Aztecs had a plethora of gold in their empire, Cortes devised a plan to steal their riches. Obviously, Cortes could not do it alone so he turned to his men. Out of their obedience, the men agreed to help Cortes. In the process of wiping the Aztec Empire clean of its wealth, Cortes and his men managed to nearly wipe out the entire Aztec civilization. Of course, there were other factors such as disease that helped contribute to the downfall of the empire, but Cortes was mainly responsible for it. If Cortes’ men had not been submissive towards him, maybe the Aztecs would be a thriving civilization. However, they are not, and it because Cortes and his men committed terrible acts. Overall, the genocide of the Jewish community and the downfall of the Aztec Empire largely happened due to obedience and not disobedience.
Widely acceptable beliefs also support Zinn’s assertion. When America was first established,...

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