09 January 2018

Honor Among Whom?

Some of us have difficulty with authority figures.  It might be the result of experiences with teachers, parents, clergy people or agents of the law.  We might be scolded for talking back or other forms of defiance, but those who scold us sometimes tell themselves, and each other, that one day we will "grow up" and "grow out of" our distrust of people with power over us.

But some of us learn, as we get older, to be even more skeptical of anyone we're supposed to obey or "respect".  I mean, how many--ahem--elected officials make you want to be a more compliant and amenable to those who have license--however they might have attained it--to make decisions that affect us?  And, given the scandals we've seen everywhere from the church to the entertainment industry, what would persuade anyone to give more credence to someone just because he or she has a title, money or a reputation, however any of those things were acquired?

Of course, the question of who merits our obedience and respect has been around for as long as humans have organized themselves.  Practically all philosophers, and more than a few poets, writers and artists have dealt with this issue, if obliquely.  And past as well as recent events give us reason to wonder just who, exactly, should be obeyed, much less revered.

One such event occurred 75 years ago this month in Flagstaff, Arizona.  The previous month, gasoline rationing had begun in the US.  Interestingly, the reason was not that petrol was in short supply.  Rather, rubber was, because the attack on Pearl Harbor a year earlier cut off most of the supply--and military needed whatever was available.  Thus, it was believed that the best way to reduce rubber usage was to reduce driving.  So was gas rationing begun.

Five different kinds of ration cards were issued. One, the C ration, was given to "essential war workers" (including police officers and letter carriers) and did not restrict the amount of gas they could use.  In Flagstaff, one recipient of the C ration was a fellow named Reverend George Gooderham.

That didn't sit well with another Flagstaff denizen--one Perry Francis.  But he wasn't just an ordinary citizen:  He was the sheriff.  

So how did Sheriff Francis express his resentment toward the Reverend?  Get ready for this:  He took the minister's bicycle.

A few hours later, the man of the cloth realized his wheels were gone and went to the local constabulary.  The folks in the sheriff's office led him on for a while before "finding" his bicycle and returning it to him.

It's often said that there is honor among thieves.  But what about cops who steal--from clergy members, no less?

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