A conversation elsewhere has me pondering on the nature of obedience. I came across this story, which I think illustrates the point quite nicely:
Four monks took a vow of silence. When night came, one of them said, “Fix the lamps.” The second replied, “We are not supposed to speak.” The third said, “Stupid fools! Why did you talk?” The fourth said to himself in silence, “I am now the only one who has not spoken.”
At each level of escalation, there is a greater break with the spirit of the vow; the fourth monk, who alone keeps the outward appearance of silence, is actually the worst offender because he breaks his silence in the interior recesses of himself — and breaks it in order to entertain self-congratulating pride.