“Others say they love freedom, but I choose to obey,” wrote Korean poet Han Yong-un from his poem “Silence of Love.” Critics say obedience in this context refers to voluntary obedience, rather than heteronomous obedience, to truth by the Absolute and higher values such as Korea’s independence. People say they love freedom, but they willingly give it up if their interests are tied or held accountable. It is commonplace to witness people sacrificing the freedom of others for their own. Thus, obedience for freedom to the Absolute can be more liberating and rightful than freedom for their own interests.
Freedom and obedience always cause conflict in times of war. Should we always conform to the orders of wrongful orders of superiors? There are several occasions where rightful orders can turn out to be wrong as time passes. During the Bataille de la Somme, known as one of the worst tragedies in the First World War, a British company discovered an empty German plateau on the frontlines. The battle had broken out while the Germans withdrew and changed shifts. The British company commander had different plans, and the company told to attack the German plateau broke down during their advancement. In such situation, should we do as we are told? Or should we change our target based on on-site discretion?
Germans, who developed assignment-type tactics, say that they would have gone directly to the plateau. Others object, citing several instances that failed due to assignment-type tactics. Some say that Germans always come up with innovating and bold ideas but lose direction and fail at critical points. The critical point of assignment-type tactics lies in obedience towards absolute value, based on responsibility of leadership. War situations change rapidly, and no command can cover unexpected situations. Leaders should not resort to orders or manuals but take full responsibility. Therefore, I prefer assignment-type tactics. I do not wish to see leaders with great authority but lacking responsibility and those who seek public favor but avoid accountability.