Just a thought: It is all about power and control
What is it that you control? What is it that you are unable to control? Last month almost a half billion dollars was spent in an effort to get control. More on this later.
Our lives are an interesting mix of being in control and not being in control. Mankind has sought power and control since God created Adam and Eve. We can begin this discussion with a serpent and an apple in the Garden of Eden. Adam took a bite of the apple to gain power.
And mankind has sought control ever since. Power and control tempt us. Some would sell their souls to get it. Power can corrupt and power can be leveraged for the benefit of others. It can be used for all purposes in between.
The pursuit of power is a key component in the animal kingdom. Put ten animals in a limited area and before long there will be a battle for control. It could be dogs, geese, elk, or any other animal. It doesn’t really matter. Eventually every pack will develop a leader. It is inherent in the psyche of every animal.
Humans are the same way. There are not enough islands in the world for each of us to have our own, so we must interact and with interaction comes structure. Structure creates power.
There are many external factors that are beyond our individual control. Some were created by natural laws. For example, no one reading this can control the sun moving across the sky nor can you control gravity or the fact that one day you will experience death.
Some external factors were created by man. You can’t control Covid. You can’t control what our President or Governor does. You can’t control having to pay taxes. You aren’t allowed to drive at 100 miles an hour in a school zone. You get the idea.
If you had the option of being able to control others or have others control you, I am confident you would choose the first. Who wants to live life under the domain of others? Mel Brooks in his movie “History of the Word” said ‘It’s good to be the king!”
So how much of life do we spend trying to gain or maintain control? Bottom line, much of life is seeking to control our own world.
You discipline your children so they know they are going to do things your way. You save for retirement so you have the power to not have to work in your later years.
Yet there are times when a person turns down power. With power comes critical people questioning the way you use it. It’s easy to offend individuals or let them down when you are the one making decisions that impact a larger group.
People have organized into cities, counties, states, and countries with the purpose of yielding their power to others in order that they benefit in return. It’s the history of mankind. The power of a group together is greater than the power of many individuals. In this instance individuals contribute individually and then collectively get common services back such as protection from bad guys and running water.
It could be said that those in elected positions or those who have unlimited financial resources are able to control others. Like it or not, I am just stating a fact.
Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall. Nations rise and nations fall. Given the opportunity, I think every nation would like to be in control of their neighbors and the world for as long as possible. But, given time, every world power has fallen.
Our country was founded on freedoms and not being oppressed. Those who fought our revolution saw a better day ahead by removing power over us from Great Britain.
Looking over the history of mankind, power has regularly been abused. That is why the history of most countries is a series of successions involving revolutions. Edmund Burke said “The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse” and William Channing shared “Absolute power was not meant for man.”
George Orwell said that “No one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.” Yet in our country power shifts regularly over our history from one party to another and then back again. I believe this is one reason that our country has remained strong as a democracy. I believe the transfer of power back and forth over the years has kept our country grounded.
The cost of power is often expensive. I look at our nation today and I think about how much is spent seeking power or control. In an article dated January 5th The Atlantic magazine stated that $443,210,038.26 was spent on the recent election in Georgia. That is almost a half billion dollars. Yes, I said billion, not million. That is for two races in one state.
How else could that money have been spent? Let your mind run wild on this one. We could pay educators better, create scholarships for college students, feed the homeless, pay health insurance for those who can’t afford it, and this is just the beginning of a long list. Instead, the advertisers won.
We have two major political parties and every act by each party is designed to take control or maintain control. What used to be an every two year or every four year focus is now a continuous process.
I practice law for a living. As an attorney, I often find myself in a situation where a client’s request of me is very simple: control the adverse party. We can spend hours and hours analyzing the facts and legal application, but at the end of the discussion the client wants me to deliver what they want and that involves controlling the other party.
Abraham Lincoln said “If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Plato stated “The measure of a man is what he does with power.” I truly believe both of these statements. Power reveals the inner soul. Give a person a high level of power and you will learn a whole lot about him or her.
My challenge to you today is to assess how the pursuit of control is present in your life. What power do you have? Can you be trusted with power? If you are vested with power does it become all about you? Or is it about helping others? Given absolute power, what would it reveal about you?
My hope is that the power you are blessed with is leveraged for the benefit of others.
Just a thought...
Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.