Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Power To The

Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on 


- John Lennon, Power To The People 

* * *

Sometimes, when you're trying to make some headway, when you are pushing at the door to open, the best you can manage is to open it a crack. Sometimes that is enough for it gives you hope that, yes, the door does move. Other times the door simply flies open without you doing a thing other than standing in front of it. Now, it may have taken you years to get there, to stand in that place, but the door knows none of that. All it knows is how to open.

* * *

A brilliant woman I know said this to me: "People choose all the wrong things trying to reclaim their power." We'd been talking about road rage, frat boys, the Klan, gun violence in Chicago, gun violence anywhere, MAGA voters, corporate greed, plain old greed, religious tests, the NRA, Fox News, white privilege,.. The conversation wasn't as dire as that appears to be on the page. It was a conversation filled with wonder at what we come to believe, as in wondering how is it we come to choose to believe and act on things that are plainly not in anyone's self interest. And then this brilliant and beautiful woman said, "People choose all the wrong things trying to reclaim their power."

And the door I'd been standing in front of for years flew open.

The premise behind writing this blog, this on-going inquiry into unfucking one's life is that we fuck ourselves when we cede authority for our lives to others, to cultural prerogatives, to pressure from our families, to the love we hope to get in exchange. To be fucked is to be without autonomy, is to be powerless in the way you respond to the circumstances of your life. Man's ultimate freedom, the one  that he can retain despite all outward circumstance is the freedom to choose how to respond to those circumstances. So says Viktor Frankl. So say I. But what happens when that too is ceded? What sort of life is lived without that singular authority, the last freedom? 

One that chooses all the wrong things trying to reclaim its power, its authority, its inherent freedom.

We take on ready-made identities. We become tribal. We wear badges identifying ourselves not simply to join with others who wear the same badges, but to stand in opposition to those who do not. The work of our days is reduced to a zero-sum battle: if I hold the gun, I hold the power; cut me off in traffic and I'll endanger everyone on the road to get back at you; take my job and I'll exclude your family from this country, even though they had nothing to do with it. We spend our days burying what was lost in the shallow comfort of power politics. 

We choose all the wrong things and wonder why everything is so fucking hard.

We grow addictions the way fallen trees grow moss and mushrooms: multitudinous, myriad, insistent. We excuse our behavior because "whatabouthim." We so relinquish authority for our lives that the ones whom we have identified as our tormentors dictate our actions instead of determining for ourselves what is the right thing to do. It is easier to be fucked than unfucked. It is easier to wear a uniform than to dress yourself. It is easier to believe you are righteous than to consider your self-righteousness. 

Why is this so?

Here's my answer: fear at being found out that one is afraid and shame that it could ever be so.

* * *

Fear is latent. It lies below the surface. It is born from the story of absence: you lack x therefore you are deficient. Perhaps this x factor is something familial, perhaps physical, mostly though it is an emotional gap, a disconnect between the life you know exists in your veins and the feedback you get from the world around you. You can succumb to it, resist it, bury it, deny it, but until you face it you cannot make peace with yourself.  You can feel its power over you, over your choices, yet it is hard to name the thing driving you. Many folks don't bother and simply assume the identity that is offered to them, that is born out of the time and place of their birth, of their family's expectations. By not questioning their faith, their assumptions and expectations they must, by needs be, stand in opposition to those who are not like them. It is the first step to dehumanizing others, to counting their lives as cheap, to discounting their lived experience.

To ever move away from the attempt to reclaim authority by demonizing others, the other in what ever shape most sets your teeth on edge, you must somehow know that you've traded what was best in you, what was possible in your days, for the cheap thrill of being an ass.

* * *

I don't want to buy the world a Coke and I don't sing kumbaya.

No, the aim is not universal love (that's just another come on), but universal respect. It begins inside you when you are able to respect the still, quiet voice of your conscience, your soul, calling out through the mire of your fear and building everything else around that voice. Act from the deepest well, not the shallowest ease, and nothing you do will harm another. Least of all yourself. 

The power, the authority for your life has never left you. It waits for you to embrace it.

* * *

I wish you well.

__________

No comments:

Post a Comment