Mentality of obeyance is grown in totalitarian societies to better control the population. Unfortunately, the countries, which are mowing to democracies, still have this mentality deep in their consciousness.
These thoughts appeared from the experience of searching for a good dentist in Ukraine. I asked a friend to help me and he found one. However, to my questions about the doctor’s experience and competence, the friend replied that he did not and would not ask this, as it is impolite to question doctor’s professionalism and this can offend him. It was a shocking attitude, which made me thinking about the Ukrainian society.
Checking someone’s professionalism is painful for the person. We feel painful passing exams, being at job interviews, presenting our projects to clients etc. Do we? Is it normal to know about a person beforehand, if we want to cooperate with him/her? Probably, it is … in a democracy. In Ukraine, there are many worrying things regarding freedom of expression in other areas as well. Students are afraid to question the words of their teachers, as they may get bad mark for this. At schools and universities, teachers are ‘always right’. Workers fear to express their ideas about development of a company and this is not only the case for state entities. Distance to power is too big in the country.
In shops, sellers get annoyed by any questions and customers do not risk finding out the information about what they are actually going to buy. At restaurants, waiters become impolite, when asked to explain contents of a dish. While proper marketing says the client is always right, it is not always the case. Market economy stimulates competition, which makes sellers fight for clients and “serve” them. In countries with bigger monopoly, sellers show their arrogance towards clients and with a lack of any alternative customers have no other choice than to buy this product/service.
In a poor country prices for transport/products rise without economic reasoning, salaries go down and people cry from despair. This would make people in democracies go to the streets to protest. In more authoritarian states, people are afraid to make their voice heard and they do not believe in their possibility to make a real change.
If we go further, distance to political power is even greater. While people are the main rulers in democracies, a few oligarchs and politicians feel themselves the most important in more authoritarian places. In EU’s countries, any person would have no problem in contacting a politician, who is representing him. In Ukraine, it is still unimaginable to reach most of the politicians.
Society helps to sustain such obeyable people. Everyone, who expresses his point of view, risks becoming a betrayer. While there is no wholly democratic and free country, there are things, which can be learned by some societies from other ones. In every place of the world, we should remember that freedom of expression, right to ask questions and doubt everything around us engines the development of the civilization and these are also basic stones of the house of democracy.