|20 May 2002 @ 11:31, by Andy Lehman|
This one is a bit longer than most, but bear with me. Usual disclaimer (no offense or personal attacks intended) with one qualification: if what I say here offends you, we really need to have a talk. It came out initially as a stream of consciousness, and it was more difficult than usual to organize it into a coherent thought pattern.
What I really want is power. Not power over people, but the power that is my birthright as a human being. I am talking about the power to explore, both inward and outward; the power that we feel when we start to explore who and what we really are. The world we are in today discourages such exploration in favor of games with a bunch of techno-toys and a mad dash to see who can become the most excellent at being mediocre. The power that I want is only at odds with those who seek to deprive me, and the rest of humanity, of freedom. I don’t wish to exercise power over anyone except myself. They are in the process of exercising a different kind of power over me. This is the kind of power that George W. Bush and cronies are so desperate to have.
I’ll tell you why power over other human beings is meaningless. Any person who would submit themselves to my power, or to the power of any “leader”, in the traditional sense, has nothing I would care to have control over. Any human that would give the responsibility for their life over to another being, willingly, has no resources that are of value to me. I really don’t care what kind of being it is that they are signing their lives over to; God, gods, a president, a cult leader. Anyone who is worth a single molecule of the air they breath has absolutely no use for followers or “sheep”, nor would they ever become one themselves. So, when I say I want power, I do not mean that I want power to rule others.
The people who spend their lives ruling over others do so because they themselves are empty shells; they have backed away from the challenge of facing themselves in the mirror of consciousness. They try so hard to give those shells meaning, by trying to make sure that their standard of mediocrity is the universal rule. They are even so terrified of their own inadequacy that they think they have the right to fight wars over it, and to declare monopolies on the use of force. Whether it is an individual, or the population of a nation making such claims to authority, they are only displaying how terrified they are of their own humanity. We are, every one of us, human, no matter which side of an imaginary line we were born on. The whole idea that I am any different from anyone else, simply because they were born in another one of these dehumanizing jokes we call nation-states, is probably one of the most destructive ideas humanity has ever come up with. The only reason a person could want power over others is to make sure that those others never exceed that person. It’s just fear; fear that another human being, if allowed to live freely, would delve into the mysteries that they themselves were too much of a coward to confront. They want to convince themselves that they are the best humanity can do. They create systems to perpetuate their own cowardly “power”; to produce human beings as crippled as they are.
I was raised with this funny little notion in my head that we can do better than this. I believe in happy endings, I believe in heroes, and I believe that there is a “good fight” to fight. If the way the world is now is the best humanity can do, then I am certain that I am not a human being. I am also certain that, if this is the best we can do, humanity does not have long left to survive. If all we can do is fight other people under the illusion that we are more worthy of survival than they, we will go on fighting forever. Is fear the only thing we will ever allow to rule ourselves, even to the point of diluting us into thinking that killing those we fear will accomplish anything?
More than being raised with it, when I was in my mid-teens, it just jumped out at me. The universe in my head, and its ability to interact with this universe and its inhabitants, is worth more than ten million times the gross national product of any nation that ever was or will be. I am in this thing, for the “long haul”, but not by choice. If I had the option of forsaking all this madness and frustration for a life of blissful ignorance, I would probably take it. Noble and altruistic impulses aside, the pain involved in being as I am is far too intense to tolerate, willingly. The problem is that I do not have the option of abandoning myself to the call of idiocy. I am far too aware of my potential (and of the potential in all of us), and the only way I can imagine spending my life is exploring that potential. I am not here out of infinite compassion or love for others. I respect those who are willing to explore themselves honestly, in spite of the world. A few, I may even come to love. Also, I do have a degree of compassion for every human being; it comes from empathy. However, I have no respect for those who are truly willing to be sheep. I’m willing to try to wake them up. What if they stick to being afraid and complacent all their lives, and it is impossible to change them? I will not let their insistence on small-mindedness deprive me of the wonders within me. I probably don’t have a choice, which is why I really hope that the rest of humanity has something at least a little bit like what is in me. I am here to better myself in the most meaningful and fundamental way. I am also very eager to meet others who would empower themselves in a similar way; life is meaningless without them.
Conscious evolution is a personal matter; it is the most important personal matter there is. It is also the most personal important matter. Without it, all we are left with is “our children will do it”. You know what? Children learn by example. You spend your entire life saying that your children are going to do it, and they are going to learn to hand it off in the same way, generation after generation. DO IT. Evolve. Explore your minds and cast off these god damn delusions. Do it for the children. That’s right… instead of preparing your children to hand off the responsibility for the world’s situation to their children, take the leap for them. Show them that it can be done, and that waiting for the next generation to do it will only work until we run out of generations. The last humans, trapped on a war torn bio-weapon eaten smog smothered planet will have no children to pass it on to. They’ll wish their great-great-great grandparents had done something, when there was still a chance. What to do? Hey, most of the people reading this are at least twice my age; use the life experience that makes you all so venerated. I’m only 20. I am trying to figure it out. What I do know is that we MUST make it personal. Ultimately, our selves are the only tools we have with which to better the world. If we don’t focus on making those selves better peace warriors, world servers, or whatever term you would prefer, then we will be useless. It has to be about bettering and improving the ME, because that is the only way WE are going to have any agents worth using. Otherwise, the WE is just a bunch of underdeveloped ME’s hoping that someone else will do it.
The kind of power I am talking about wanting is only effective when thousands or millions of humans are willing to stand side by side and exercise it. I don’t want this power for myself alone. Quite the opposite; I need to bath in the light of others who are as desperate to grow as I. If this world that we live in today, with its nation-states and politics, is the best the human race can do, I have no place here. Aware though I may be, I’m only “human”. As such, the weight of six billion people is more than enough to pull me down, if those six billion people are so contented that this is just the way things are. If that’s true, then I am a mistake. The belief in happy endings that defines me is some kind of pipe dream. Yet, at the same time, I am no more or less human than anyone else. How can this be? I don’t know the answer.
Some have said that it is obscene to declare that one’s self is better than anyone else. That’s a problem, because if I am not better than the mass of mediocrity out there, then I am really a piece of crap. To advance at all, I have to believe that I am better. I know we are all human. We all share something, but I absolutely must believe that there is at least the potential in me to be above what the rest of humanity is acting out. Perhaps that potential will never see the light of day, but it is the only thing I have to go on. I want to believe that the rest are better than their situation and actions, as a species, would lead me to believe. I hope beyond all hope that one of the traits of our common humanity is that potential that I am certain I have within myself. I hope that I am absolutely no better than anyone else. The only real criterion I can think of for declaring anyone to be “better” than anyone else in the first place is the extent to which they allow their will to be taken over by an authority figure. The people who refuse to, no matter the cost, are the ones who are going to save the world. They will take their lives into their own hands, because they recognize that they are the only ones capable of improving themselves. Those who wait for a messiah or an afterlife are embracing death. Some of us are not ready to embrace death yet; we love life too much.
Sit here and live my life, you say, and accept the way it is? Recognize that the cosmological constant of human self-mutilation is not subject to change? I’m sorry, I wasn’t designed for such a world; I live in a world where humanity is capable of rising above this state of being perpetually scared stupid. A design flaw, perhaps? Am I ahead of my time? Maybe I’m behind it. Or maybe I’m just skewed so far sideways from my time that I can’t even comprehend this world in the slightest. All I can do is hope that the “masses” of humanity have the same kind of vastness within them, waiting to be being explored. I know I do, and I know that if everyone were as self-interested as I am, and wanted the same kind of power as I do, the world would be one hell of a better place. With this power comes a boundless respect for anyone else who would dare to exercise it. You see, I want to live in a world full of people I would neither want nor need power over. I think it is critical for as many people as possible to feel as empowered as the idealized me does. My biggest challenge right now is to increase the similarity between the idealized me who is writing this and the actual me, who has no idea what to actually DO. Only with that kind of empowerment can we help each other find the pieces to the puzzle that is our humanity.
The though keeps coming back to me: this can’t be the best we can do. Even when every little practical detail and imperfection is taken into account, we must be able to do better than this. Why haven’t we; why are we even in this mess? How is it that the vast majority of our species has allowed itself to become so disempowered? If we can do better, then let’s do it, and do it fast. Let’s get people to take power away from fear and use it to discover themselves. I think that, with a sufficient amount of self-discovery, fear will have no place, and no power over us.
I dedicate this ramble to the president and vice president of the United States, for giving me faith in the fact the being scared stupid is what runs the current social and political systems (this applies to both the rulers and the subjects; all are scared stupid), and that there absolutely MUST be something better than the state of fear they offer us.
P.S. I am open to any and all reactions to this; if you think I am out of my mind, say so. If you'd like to flame away, do so.