We don’t know it, we are ashamed to admit even the possibility, but the truth is that we are. The trait conceals itself deep inside the forgotten recesses of our memory. It takes but the right nudge at the right time to bring it out.
Of all my son’s virtues, I believe ‘obedience’ would fall somewhere towards the bottom of the list. “Why don’t you just do as I say?” has become the tag line I have to repeat several times a day.
And I know my Mom would roll her eyes if I call myself ‘obedient’.
But when I look at my six-year-old carefully, I can see a tiny unit somewhere within his being that urges him to listen and obey. When he was smaller, he would just obey without thinking.
I find the evidence for the existence of this entity when he tells me things like “I threw a stone at the dog because my friend told me to.”
“The TV says ‘don’t go away’, so I am sitting right here.” (“Don’t go away! Cartoon Network will return right after this short break!“)
As he grew, he started pondering over my words, and then he learned to hesitate, or refuse, to obey.
That tiny unit remains intact even as we grow, partly dormant, sometimes shaking itself awake with a yawn, and makes us want to obey every direct order we get.
How else can I explain the urge to obey when Google tells me authoritatively that I haven’t fed my mobile number to it and I’d better do it immediately?
Or when Facebook says, my email account and FB profile aren’t linked, and that some of my friends have gone bonkers trying to locate me on FB, and it’s my duty to save their lives by linking my profiles?
Or when one of those job profile websites ask me to complete my resumé, lest some ill fate befall me before the day is out?
Or when some unknown site pops up at me and says Click here to know your future! I don’t want to know my future, but I unknowingly move my mouse towards the window as if in a trance, before I snap awake, realise what I am doing and stop.
I feel guilty – as though I am breaking a few rules – when I resist that urge to do things these robot monsters suggest, and when I refuse to give in to their demands. I feel as though I am not being a good girl. I would so love to get a pat on the back from Google when I fill in my personal number, the way my son gets one when he is being good.
It must be that tiny trait called obedience, that still lurks inside…