A Joke About Intelligent Disobedience
I am teaching a class at the Federal Executive Institute this week. A former military officer in the class told this joke:
- An army general, an air force general, and a navy admiral are waging a bet as to whose personnel have more courage.
- The army general orders a private to stand in front of a tank. The soldier stands there without moving as the tank rolls over and flattens him. The army general thought he would surely win the wager.
- The admiral orders a sailor to jump into the rough sea and swim to a ship anchored 5 miles off the coast. The sailor jumps into the sea and is soon lost to the treacherous waves. The admiral thought he surely would win.
- The air force general orders his airman to go up in an airplane and jump out of it without a parachute. The airman replies “No, I won’t. That’s a stupid and illegal order.” The air force general says, “Now THAT is courage!” and wins the contest.
No slight intended to our services, but this apocryphal story makes the point of Intelligent Disobedience too well to not share.