Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Illusion of Power

In contradiction to one of my few superstitions, I titled this post before typing it. My superstition dictates that titling something pre-composition sort of jinxes the whole bit. But the case has been otherwise on several occasions, so I'm not too worried about it. On the whole, I think that fear stems from a desire to let my writings roam freely and develop on their own, unhindered by the goads of my assumption. Anyways, I'd like to talk about something I call, "The Illusion of Power."

Power itself is a thing, I think, that is truly unreachable for a human being. Say, for instance, that I decide to make someone buy me lunch. I might pressure them into doing so through blackmail, physical force, or a thousand other things. But, in the end, it's really up to them to decide whether my idea is worth their effort or not. I have no control over any human spirit except my own. I have no choices to make except my own. I worked this past summer at the Boys and Girls Club, and I highly recommend it as a short or long-term job. But I remember thinking quite a bit about what might happen if the kids there simply decided, "I don't want to do what I'm told." The kids who misbehaved did so for attention. They were simply in need of love. But by misbehaving, they were still giving themselves over into the will of the staff at the Club to make decisions for them and respond to them. They were still acknowledging the rules, even through breaking them. But if a child ever simply decided that what the staff said and thought was not important, whether for good or bad, the kid would be free of inhibitions to go wherever and do whatever. I remember thinking of the incredible and remarkable hold that I as a staff member had over those kids. I could hold a group of forty kids at my whim. Now, some of us were better at motivational speaking than others, but all of us on staff could simply bend these kids to our will, with a bunch of bullcrap rules that seemed stupid anyways! What power! And yet, in our minds, there was always the question of imminent anarchy. What would happen? How would we deal with it? What do you do when someone who you're responsible for just decides to quit worrying about what you think?

Thus, power, at least of human over human, is simply an illusion. Funny thing, that free will....


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