"I have made the most wonderful discovery... men will risk their lives, even die, for ribbons"Submitted by Chris Nomdujourski on Wed, 05/15/2013 - 16:51
Napoleon Bonaparte said " I have made the most wonderful discovery, I have discovered men will risk their lives, even die, for ribbons!" How far will you go for awards, ribbons, prizes, medals? | Answerbag http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/704557#ixzz2TOeLkYWY
You'll see it anywhere hierarchies of any form are established. A uniform, a sash, a differently-colored hat or name tag. Any of these are enough to turn any person into a tyrant almost instantly. It happens at the point when the person realizes that the power given to them by the uniform is absolute: orders must be followed, special privileges can be taken but not questioned by subordinates.
Drunk with power is an exactly appropriate analogy, because power is intoxicating. From police to crossing guards to hotdog stand managers, most will succumb to the high and do the same things any other addict will to get more. A precious few are repelled and repulsed by the sensation. Teetotalers of tyranny.
It is when the power is threatened that the individual inside the uniform can become most dangerous. Higher brain function ceases and the reptilian, fight or flight brain takes over. I learned about this when I got put in charge of one of the aforementioned hotdog stands. Staffed by volunteers. Elderly volunteers. Who'd been there 30 years longer than me. I was forced to, pressured by my boss to tighten the reins. I made an example of someone. I may have even cursed as a demonstration of my autonomy. I felt angry, sad, and nauseous.
Thankfully I was able to get some empathy and support from a few people who were also unhappy with the lack of team cohesion, and were especially frustrated by their inability to affect change as they were mere underlings themselves. Do police officers feel the same sense of relief as I did when people they talk to are cooperative, on the same side?
To complete Napoleon's quote, "men will also die to avoid having their ribbons taken away." Those who have been granted privilege soon come to see themselves through the prism of the baubles and ribbons they are given periodically as a reward for subservient or heroic behavior. Better to take a bone from a dog than to threaten or even question the epaulets of authority.