There’s a Patients’ Bill of Rights. Hospital staff receives training on how to respect the individuality of each patient. However, when individuals enter a hospital for whatever reason, they become subject to rules and customs that they had no part in making.
As an RN, I’ve met patients who seem to relish having someone else take care of them and tell them when to eat and when to sleep. Many patients can’t wait to escape from the hospital so they can return to their own ways of doing things, including their so-called bad habits.
The idea of democracy acknowledges our need to take part in developing the rules by which we live and to live according to our wishes rather than someone else’s. However, it’s not only hospitals where a person has to choose to conform or be labeled a bad patient.
In the workplace, in stores, in agencies, in schools, a good manipulator can become a petty authority whose warped vision controls the destiny of others. I’ve had senior workers tell me what to wear and what’s wrong with my sex life. I’ve had store clerks insist I can only buy what they want to sell, and tenured faculty choose what books I should study.
There’s a movie out called, “Bad Bosses.” In this economic climate, people hesitate to say anything bad about where they work or about their bosses. The movie’s solution is for the workers to plan to kill their bosses and to fail due to humorous complications. It touches lightly on a serious matter and offers no real solution. I think we need some fictional non-conformists such as the lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird and the soldiers in Catch 22.
Maybe you know good examples of successful non-conformists in modern fiction. When a petty authority remains alive in a communal situation, those subject to the whims and manipulations of such an authority have to find a way to change the restrictive climate. That’s not always easy. Sometimes it takes years.