“’I was playing ball in the house,’ Ada said in the
same small voice. ‘Even though you have told
me not to. And I broke something. I should have
listened to you.’
Eva shook her head. ‘Plays me like a
goddamned cello,’ she said.”
I wonder how programmed we are to “play” individuals we perceive as authority figures. Is it learned in K-12, or is there some evolutionary purpose? Lately, I have been thinking a lot about our species’ shift from hunter-gatherer societies – and if it was, at one point,a genetic advantage to give others the illusion of control. Certainly, once we ceased living in relatively egalitarian communities, some became leaders. But, just as certainly, it was in the interest of a majority of people to not just fall into, but thrive in the role of the subordinate.
But, like so many other things, it comes down to nature versus nurture. A co-explanation to this phenomenon would label it as an acquired skill. So many kids I have known, myself included, have tried everything imaginable to keep compulsory education from feeling like a cheese grader to the back of the head. Many, myself not included, determined that the difference between the-path-of-most-resistance and the-path-of-least-resistance are remarkably similar. And that is potentially a dangerous conclusion to draw.