Thursday, August 26, 2010

An interesting juxtaposition

Often, we know that there are wrong things going on in our world. From our small office politics to mass hunger and genocide in some other god forsaken land. Most of the time, we don't know what to do about it. Most of us are not cruel people, but the effort to make a difference is a large and taxing one (whether it is to let go of office politics or help solve world hunger). So, we have no choice then but to accept it.

And we return to the system that we live in. This is where I think we can make a difference. Firstly we need to recognise that we do live in a broken and hurtful system. What is this system? It is simply our economic system. And our economic system doesn't work just upon money - it works upon the potential that money promises - it works upon power and the need for it. We are all working to increase our power within society - for whatever our purposes are.

Our power/economical system then, by its definition draws up a kind of ladder of life. It polarises wealth and power exponentially into its top percentage. We work most of our lives trying to climb the ladder. The system also is hurtful because it ignores many other aspects of our lives - emotional/spiritual/relationships/moral etc.

Consider the system you live in and contribute to. What are its foci and what does it ask you to aspire to? Does it ignore or reduce the importance of any aspects of your life?

Here is an amusing excersice to try. I did this with a group of young adults as we started our discussion group (I was a participant not a coordinator). We were directed to first list a few things that were wrong with the world today.

There were many things listed as what was wrong with the world. Selfishness, greed, anxiety for material stability, sickness, the rich and poor divide etc.

Then we put up on board just below it what the idea of a great person was. A great person (someone we might be jealous of or aspire to be) was often - male, rich, influential, good looking, charismatic, powerful, intelligent, rational, etc. This great person though, is often a great person of the system.

We realized then, a great person did not actually alleviate or concern themselves with what was wrong with the world. Of course, there were and are great individuals who have done otherwise - Mother Theresa for example. But our general idea of the great person was not helping the planet. In many cases they support and contribute to the current system.

Many people strive for what the 'great' people have. Once again that is power. That is what the system promises.

Power to be free of life's constant worries. Power to divulge into any craving you might have. Power to choose as you wish without concerning yourself with others - or at least choose how much you want to concern yourself with it.

It then behooves us to contemplate the nature of power. So my question today is this:

What is the nature of power? Is it something we should be striving for? How much power do we need? How much money do you need? Does it help the world at all? Does it perpetuate the system, and thus increase what is wrong with the world? Does having a lot of power in your life make it a better life? Does it build trust, love, friendships, life? Does not by definition power mean some of us are weaker?


  1. I love how that story above (with the fisherman) exemplifies what you're talking about here to some degree. Although his economic contribution to society may be on a smaller scale, his quality of family life and social interaction (I consider the former to be of world-changing importance) are already top notch.

  2. Lol - I thought it was more about pointing out that we might already have the things that we are working so hard for