Saturday, January 31, 2009

Power Power

They say the business of America is business, but that’s just our particular version of the truth. The business of Man is power. We, in the West, choose business as our favored garden, and it is such fertile ground. Business brings money, money buys influence, and influence is just another synonym for power.

Not that there aren’t many roads to the Emerald City. Every aspect of our existence is colored by the pursuit of power. Politics. Business. Social issues. Religion. Art. Ethics. Sports. Morality. Music. Love. Saturday morning TV. Food. Medicine. Sex. We struggle to gather influence. We jockey for power within our families. We consolidate power in every organization, from couple to conglomerate to the United Nations. And, the bigger the organization, the more complex are the rituals and construct of authority. “Any time two people come together,” my Mother says, “There’s bound to be a power struggle.”

No wonder we keep killing each other.

We hold love, respect and cooperation in the highest regard. Then, we use them as a cudgel to shape our affairs. We create complex rituals and organizations to maintain amiable relations. Then, we use those same organizations as an instrument of control. Is there anything more influential in the UN that it’s Security Council, a small body of select member-nations that holds disproportionate sway over the military affairs of all other nations around the globe? Yeah – like that. We speak of peace as the ultimate gift we can offer each other, and forcefully deny the operations of our baser impulses, all while clutching a big stick off-camera.

We almost instinctually reach for power the moment someone (presumably more powerful) dangles it before us. Surely, the population of people who have rejected an offer to wield influence is not legion. And, when challenged and cornered, we spout high-minded motivations for wanting, chasing, grabbing, guarding power, and for seeking to mitigate that held by the “other”:
We are protecting our own. We are guardians, stewards of the light. We rage against the darkness. Evil will not win on our watch. They wanted/needed it this way. We have every reason in the world to exercise our strength, our talents and authority in a manner that naturally – hell, even accidently – allows us to land on top of our fellow man.

Sometimes, we have no good reason at all. Sometimes, pure desire is enough.

We seem to have a hard time appreciating the perspective of those who land on the lesser end of our big wins. We avoid power-sharing as if it is blasphemous. We never envision a solution that does not involve our winning and others losing something, unless it is in pursuit of a deferred, yet greater, glory. And, we certainly have no capacity to see a time when our power wanes and Destiny propels us downward. If we ever did grasp any of these realities, we might lay down our sticks, and reach out in the sort of comprehensive cooperation we have not seen since Kindergarten.

But, hell! Then the other guy would just smack us in the face, and grab the cudgel for himself.

Power up.


rebecca said...

Oh, Fe,'s a primal thing imprinted into our DNA. From the beginning of time until the end, it will always be. We can evolve as much as we like, but this thing, this thing akin to the air, food and water that we need to survive - and survive is the key word here even though it is used as a sorry excuse sometimes - will never disappear. It is what it is...good, bad or indifferent. And it is sad that we mostly use that power for the detriment of mankind instead of for what it should be - the goodness of others.

Janie said...

Humankind would have to evolve for eons to get past our quest for power. How true that power drives politics, recreation, relationships, religion. Seeing life from the perspective of the less powerful entity seems to be beyond us. Or maybe we see it, but just don't want to recognize it.
How true that the nice guy would end up being the loser nearly 100% of the time. If we don't stand up for ourselves, certainly the other power-hungry beings won't do it for us!

CoyoteFe said...

Ah Rebecca-san, you are right. I am railing at the sky, aren't I? Perhaps, I will stop protesting the pursuit of power, and advocate its responsible cultivation and use. Hmm ... seems as unlikely. Urk.

CoyoteFe said...

Halloo Janie!

You too are right! We don't acknowledge teh rights of the less powerless (unless it is to chortle). I don't think we even bother to be embarrassed. AND, yeah, its an act of positive personal power (as Rebecca advocates) to not wait for someone who stick up for you, but to take those reins into your own hands.

TRXTR said...

I'm just guessin' that you must have had a very bad day. Maybe you found yourself powerless at some point...

I mean, I get the rant! Ranting is good. But your post, following all of those extolations of President Obama? Are you saying that "power is terrible unless it is in the 'right' hands"?

OK, so now we find out that the Obama administration is NOT going to stop those extraordinary renditions (kidnappings) that gave the Bush administration such a bad name-- as abuses of power. Do we like such breaches of international law better when we like the one who is President better?

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. But are we already seeing power corrupt the highly pragmatic President Obama? I hope not.

CoyoteFe said...

How did you know about my bad day?! All right, it wasn't a horrible, terrible one. it wasn't even particularly related to me. I just watched one two many people who should know better abuse their power, or positions, or whatever else they could find to wield. It felt like an epidemic, but as Rebecca pointed out, it is in our DNA. Still, I always want to saddle up.

As far as Obama is concerned, I read about a loophole left in place that may allow such evil in the future. He needs to close it. Period. And, my liking him does not give him a free pass. Urk.