Thursday, October 20, 2011

Getting Yours

Our world is all about getting.  Get more stuff.  Get more money.  Get more food. Get more.  I've renounced and condemned such a philosophy regularly and often vehemently in past posts.  Today, however, I want to discuss an exception.   I want you to get out and get more.  More power.

Not the "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too" kind of power.  That's the kind of power that our government and business and many people are after.  That's the kind of dualistic pitting of Ds against Rs, rights against lefts, blacks against whites, gays against straights, Christians against Muslims, religious against atheists, rich against poor kind of BS that passes for power in this near-powerless world.  That kind of power acquisition is motivated by fear. Whoever advocates for it always does so by some sky-is-falling scenario that your rights are being eroded by the very existence of someone else.

We all fall for it.  It motivates every donation to a political candidate--we don't know these people or their positions on every issue; we donate and vote because we think they're 'better' than their opponent because of a letter behind their name or a bumper-sticker slogan--their 'platform' is less scary to us than the other guy's.  And so we give them our money and our support--our power--because we're afraid of the other guy and whatever it is we surmise he stands for.

The news and every 'cause' from Aryan Nation's to Michael Moore's is about this kind of power.  Stop the rich guys so the rest of us can have more.  Stop the poor, because they're trying to get yours for nothing.  Stop the blacks because they want to take what we whites have.  Stop the fundamentalists, because they'll insist on everyone being fundamentalist, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  I do it.  And if you're honest with yourselves, you'll admit you do it too.  But what I'm talking about isn't that kind of power at all.

The kind of power I'm talking about is the kind that doesn't involve disempowering anyone else. It doesn't  raise the bridge by lowering the water. It doesn't get more by ensuring that someone else gets less.  This kind of power is unlimited, so it doesn't need to take from anywhere or anyone else to get more.  It comes from three places.

The first source of true power is knowledge.  Knowledge is something there's always more of--you never have to take any from someone else in order to get more.  No one can tax it or take it away from you.  And it's sorely lacking in most humans at most periods of history, including now.  Knowledge requires that you look at all information--even that with which you disagree--and critically evaluate it.  When you have knowledge, you can't dismiss something by merely calling it a name; you must make a rational argument against it.  Knowledge requires that you find not just one side or the other, but both sides.  It requires that you shine light into dark corners, both others' and your own, and expose the prejudices and fears that live there, since operating from prejudice and fear take your power and give it to someone else--someone who's always there claiming to know just how to stop the other side or fix the problem.   Knowledge leads to understanding, and with more understanding comes less prejudice and fear--less giving away of your own power.

The second source is love.  Like knowledge, love is infinite.  If you run out, you can always make more.  Unfortunately, most people only even try to make enough for a few people they know well.  But by working at it, we can make enough to feel compassion for people who we've never met.  Imagine what happens if people started to feel compassion for the very same people that our culture has indoctrinated us to believe are unworthy of our love--the 'other.'  We stop fearing them, we stop prejudging them as being scary and evil, and see them as perhaps just like us.  And then, just like with knowlege, we have less prejudice and fear, and we don't need to give away our power to stay 'safe' from them.

The last source of true power is unity.   One of the biggest myths in history is the "two sides to every story" cannard.  There aren't two sides.  There's one side for every person on earth--so many sides that it's really all one side.   Every human on this planet struggles with the same stuff.  We want to feel safe, loved, and worthwhile.   The two sides myth tells us that there's always somebody out there who threatens our safety or structures or values, and we can't rest until that person or group is overcome.  My god is bigger than your god.  My country is stronger than your country.  My bombs will blow up more than your bombs will.  My philosophy is "righter" than your philosophy.  It's all a way to stratify our world in a way that makes us feel we're not at the bottom of the safe/loved/worthy totem pole.   There are no winners-ever-and so it's the perfect game for the manipulators to make us play.  It never ends, and we'll keep giving them our money and support until we have nothing left.   We're afraid of terrorism.  We give the manipulators tax money and support to bomb a village in Pakistan with drones to kill terrorists.  Some Pakistani gets annoyed that we blew up his village and decides to suicide bomb something and our manipulators play it a thousand times on TV to make sure we're petrified of being blown up.  Repeat cycle.   But if you recognize there's not a two-sided distinction-say, Pakistanis and Americans, but a side for every person, the idea that you must wipe out all the 'other' becomes ludicrous.  If people just became unwilling to see a difference between "us" and "them," the game would stop.   We'd see that just as 99.99999% of "us" wouldn't go bomb someone for no reason, neither will "they."

Maybe every now and then someone would come off the rails, but for the most part, if  people just refused to see the conjured up boogeyman as different than them, a whole lot more people would go about their business without ever a thought that someone needed killed.  We'd stop spending our time worried about getting blown up or attacked by commies, or whatever the fear flavor of the week is.  We'd stop tilting at the monsters with long ferocious arms that those of clear mind would know to be only windmills. We'd stop feeling the need for preemptive strikes, or banning things we're unfamiliar with, or hurting people we don't know.  We'd stop giving away our power out of fear and prejudice.    And then, my, how powerful we'd become.

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