Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Authoritarian Attitude

Having an authoritarian attitude is usually considered a negative trait, and a parish priest writing in a bulletin for priests acknowledges that priests often hear about this observation, usually directed, of course, not at them but at other priests. In any case it is the priest himself who is most hurt by it, and it also hinders the growth of others he comes in contact with. He considers his goal in life to be always growing in maturity, but if the authoritarian attitude on his part is preventing others from growing, this is a serious problem in his own growth.

In his seminarian years he knew wonderful teachers but some acted toward the seminarians in ways that are hard to understand. Sometimes in class, questions that were not considered properly orthodox would not be seen by some teachers as an opportunity to dig deeper into the matter but would be a reason for personal attacks on the students. At times, it would even be a reason for a student to doubt his vocation. This authoritarian attitude on the part of a teacher can have long-term repercussions on the formation of the future priest.

When we come in contact with this authoritarian attitude, the chance to grow will be deferred. In not getting the warm and kind concern of the teacher, we in response expend all kinds of energy on the emotions that are engendered in such contact; it  is no help in growth.

The  writer admits that he also is not free from this criticism and tries to find the reasons for this in his own life. He can't get rid of the uneasiness in himself that he tries to overcome with this authoritarian attitude: lack of understanding the other, little expertise and  experience. What he knows and the way he lives his life are often different, making for difficult human relationships. He admits that he has not been able to remedy these problems in a healthy way: accepting the emotions  that come with the failures. He has tried to restrain these feelings and to protect himself. But with this troubling rupture in his relationships, he feels a lack of ease and intimacy when dealing with others.

Because of this pattern in his life, self-confidence and respect for himself has been weakened, with a weakening of his own control over himself. Anxiety suddenly comes upon him and brings fear. In this condition, there is a tendency to drink too much and to shield himself by putting on the armor of authority in an effort to mask and flee his condition. Others like himself who fail to examine themselves and take the steps to overcome the condition will, like himself, use these unhealthy ways of dealing with the situation.

He concludes that with this kind of attitude, we do harm not only to ourselves but to all those we come in contact with; a good reason to do everything we can to overcome the problem.




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