The Game of Power

by Antonia M

I have just witnessed an involuntary interchange of authority between individuals. Read further and you will understand what I mean by that.

I was just sitting on my balcony, enjoying the spring’s breeze and the silence Easter holiday brings, when suddenly I saw two boys of the age of 10-11 walking down the street. What intrigued me to look at them more carefully was the body language and the clothing style. The less taller kid was wearing a hoodie and loose pants and the other kid that was a little taller (and I think one or two years older) was wearing a cap, a hoodie, a large t-shirt and loose jeans. What stroke me the most was how the taller one had that “swag” walk, all extroverted and alfa male body language. It was obvious that the other one was intimidated by the “alfa dog” and was walking behind and not beside him. This was the first involuntary obedience behavior I have seen in this scenario.

When they crossed the street, the two boys interacted with other three boys but these were older, about 13-14 years old. In that group there was a leader, too and when they have seen the two younger children, they engaged into a high confidence appearance and loud speaking voice. The initial boys suddenly changed their body language, shoulders pulled in front, insecure voice, a mild handshake ( apparently they all known each other and shook hands). This was the first change of authority and the third involuntary obedience behavior I have seen in this scenario (the second obedience behavior was in the second group). But wait, there is more!

The three older kids were obviously feeling good about themselves after the younger boys walked away ashamed and obedient. It couldn’t get any “better”, huh? Well… Across the street appeared a large group of boys age between 16 and 18 who were obviously going to visit someone (well dressed, perfumes in their hands, etc.). The three boys changed their behavior, gathering around each other, suddenly not speaking and bragging, they just sat still, waiting for the potential danger to disappear. Luckily, the large group didn’t interact with them, they simply walked by, but the exchange was made without the large group even knowing: the authority became obedient, the three boys were intimidated and gave up their dominant role to the older guys. I am telling you, it was fascinating to watch this wonderful subconscious behavior. Not only did this happen in less than three minutes but the end was extremely ironical and hilarious. The second group (the three boys aged between 13-14 years) were scared away, (literally scared away, they even started running) by a hoarding lady who was passing by and talking by herself. If you put it this way (to make sense to the “game”), the most obedient person in this episode became the authority, and without her even knowing.

Leaving the ironical tone aside, this was a day-by-day interaction between people. You will be both an authority figure and an obedient person more often than you will change socks. The contexts are infinite and the roles are defined by them. At the end of the day you simply have to ask yourself one question: Can I be a permanent authority figure in my life and accept being obedient in some cases? If the answer is yes, you will leave a happy and long life. If the answer is no, then you have to do something to reach the first answer, that is if you want to be happy, of course. If not, you and society have a problem.

You know that saying: “You have to learn how to follow before you can lead.”, do you agree?



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