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Issue : The Well-being Of A Society Is Enhanced When Many Of Its People Question Authority - With A Free Essay Review

“Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.”

The prosperity of the people of a society depends heavily on the ruling authority of the state. The policies made and administrative decisions taken by the government heavily influences the quality of life of the people. If a majority of the people observes that the government is unable to keep the people happy through its policies, then a variety of measures may be taken, depending upon the level of tolerance of the authority, which may result in general improvement of the living standards. This is examined in detail here.

In a democratic setup the powers of the authority are generally checked by an opposition party. This forms the basic mechanism of questioning the authority. If the opposition feels that certain policies of the government are adversely a majority of the population and the general sentiment of the people are against that policy, then it may raise its voice in the law-making bodies of the nation and pressurise the authority. This generally has the effect of the government repealing the concerned law or policy. Thus the opposition party may contribute to ensuring the well-being of the mass by echoing the view of a majority of the people who are dissatisfied by certain acts of the government. This has happened in a lot of countries in the world. For example, recently, in India, a policy permitting a 51% foreign direct investment in retail business was severely opposed by a majority of the people, arguing that it will hurt the interest of poor farmers, and ultimately the government was forced to reconsider its decision.

Another way of questioning the authority is by analysing the credentials and ability of the people in the government. It may so happen that the government usurped power through illegal means without the consent of the majority of the general public. Such governments generally follow biased policies which give advantage to a small number of people who support the government. This affects the general well-being of the people, a majority of whom are deprived of various rights. In such cases people may join hands, unite, and launch protests and call for public demonstrations. Such a mass movement generally pressurises the government enough for it to resign. For example the mass uprising in Egypt in 2011 forced the president to step down after decades in power. In the past too, we have seen countries gaining independence from colonial masters, only through mass protest and years of rebellion and resistance.

In a less democratic setup where the government does not tolerate opposition, questioning the authority may invoke violent reprisal from the government. In the worst case, a civil war may break out, as has happened recently in Syria. This causes a lot of distress and loss of lives. Thus it is not always the case that opposing and questioning the government brings about improvement in the quality of lives of the people.

So in conclusion, it can be seen that in general where opposition to the authority is tolerated, the well-being of the society can definitely be enhanced by an unified protest by a majority of the people. But this seems to fail in some cases where the authority itself seeks violent measures in crushing any movement which questions its existence.



You are really addressing a different problem here from that raised by the prompt, so I would advise taking another bash at it. You take "society" to mean "people," and examine whether questioning authority is good for the happiness of the people, but that is not really what "society" means. A society is made up of people, to be sure, but it is not the people as such. You might think of it, society, as the collection of the people as a whole in a particular place. The well-being of society is for the same reason distinct from the happiness of the people. The former is a measure of the general welfare of the entire community as an organized group of people; the happiness of the people may be a feature of the well-being of a society, but so is the integrity of the social system, the stability of the economy and the political structures, the level of crime, the extent of individual rights, and so on. So the question you need to address is whether the well-being of a society in that sense is promoted or undermined when many people question authority. You can think, for example, about the advantages or disadvantages to a society of the existence of a free press and the right to freedom of expression (especially in the case where such freedoms are enthusiastically exercised). You can think about the possibly different answers to that question in times of peace and in times of war (some argue, for instance, that society is best served by people uncritically supporting authority in times of war or crisis). You can think about the possibly different answers to that question in different kinds of society (those where there are mechanisms in place that allow the questions of the people to be heard; those where there are mechanisms that allow the questions to be ignored; and so on). Or you can think about particular issues: Does questioning authority interfere with the ability of governments to get important things done? Does it help to keep governments free of corruption? Does it contribute ultimately to the quality of political decisions or does it tend to result in politicians being merely populist?

Best, EJ
Submitted by: pritz_0601


Thanks for explaining this issue
July,04 2012

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