Today obedience is a word with a primarily negative meaning. One associates with it a slavish or blind obedience by which millions in the 20th century followed their leaders to death during two world wars. Modern man has left this kind of obedience behind. One likes to present oneself as reflective and critical, and nobody would follow the command of a person in authority without first questioning it. So far, so good. But in view of an increasing disrespect towards institutions like the police, courts, etc., the question arises: Is obedience really always negative, or could there be positive aspects of obedience? Did our society throw out the baby with the bathwater with an anti-authoritarian education?

Parents of little children experience situations again and again in which they wish that their children would simply do what they asked of them without the need for a long-winded explanation, for example, when they ask them to close the refrigerator door. Where does this longing for obedience come from? Obedience is closely connected to trust. There is no obedience without trust. And since trust is a positive attribute in interpersonal relationships, an obedience flowing out of this is also classified as positive. A child that trusts his parents obeys them, knowing all that his parents demand of him will be for his good, even if he does not fully understand the current issue.

The same upfront trust would be desirable in a constitutional state towards the police or other authorities. The lack of this kind of trust in much of modern society, which questions the functionality of state representatives, is not so much due to a bad experience with certain authorities, but rather due to a childhood education that completely faded out aspects like obedience towards parents. The result is obvious: No obedience, no trust. But a society that lacks both heads towards anarchy if everybody does only what seems to be right for him at that moment.