What is power? What is to live – as in show up and travel – powerfully? Is it a matter of holding unshakeable convictions? Is it about being right and never being wrong or admitting you were wrong? Is it about being able to dominate folks and get them to do what you want them to do? Is about being able to bend nature/life to your will? Is it about belonging to the biggest nation, religion, corporation, club, tribe?
Have you come to a conclusion? Yes? Great. No? Think further and come to a conclusion. Now that you have come to a conclusion I invite you to read and grapple with the following perspective on power and living powerfully:
“When all is said and done there is only one definition of power that has any authentic meaning for man. We have seen …. that man is the animal in evolution who lives a series of paradoxes on which is distinctive humanity is based. So much so that we can say that his fate is to live in the teeth of paradoxes. For an animal with such fate, what would his distinctive strength be?
It would have to be the ability to support contradictions, ambiguities, since his own distinctive nature is based on them and is rife with them. Power for man …… is the ability to support contradictions, nothing less.
It is amazing how we misread reality, how we see power in all the wrong places, all the wrong forms, forms which have nothing to do with our distinctive problems. We think we see power in the people with sure beliefs, unshakeable convictions, smug self-confidence. Yet these are psychological weaknesses on a planet which is fluid and full of surprises. We think we see power in the ability to dominate and coerce others. Yet history has taught us that power inevitably makes a slave of and destroys the manipulator whether it be a man or a nation. We think we see power in numbers, in the deafening chorus of mass enthusiasms and the solid wall of shared opinions. Yet history daily teaches us that nature has no respect for even unanimous misperception of reality, and she has the coldest equanimity for the enthusiasms that carry whole populations into rapture…..
Such power for man must be, of course, an ideal, and an unattainable one – yet the whole sense of human life is a struggle in that direction.”
– Ernest Becker, The Birth and Death of Meaning
If you truly get what Ernest Becker is getting at then you will find a new space of freedom opening up for you. How so? You can accept the messiness of life: the contradictions, the ambiguities, the reversals… You can accept these in yourself, in others, in nature, in human living.
What is there left to say? To say thanks – thanks to each and everyone that continues to subscribe to this blog. And to wish each of you the very best living – living powerfully – in 2016, and beyond.