power

Nothing Beside Remains

Ozymandia
by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)

[annotated]

I met a traveler from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

We Are Fundamentally Peers

Excerpt from "You Don't Need a King to Empower You," by Brian Robertson, Big Think: In Their Own Words, May 21, 2013: 

"I think a lot of the cries today are for better leaders, better heroic leaders, better parental figures that will lead us better and I think the interesting power shift that this method I use points to is what happens when we stop asking for better heroic leaders and we put in place a system that distributes power, so that we don’t need heroic leaders to save us, rather so that each of us shows up not as an employee subject to the whims of the broader employer and the leader and the boss, but shows up with our own voice and our own power and our own integrity.

If you’re that leader you can show up and say it’s not my job to process your tensions, it’s not my job to heroically step in and save you, I'm going to process my own tensions as best I can and we’re in an environment where we are fundamentally peers even as we take on different roles and those roles have different authorities.  We can still show up as humans together in a way that owns our reality where nobody is a victim. It takes a power structure to do it in the same way that we shift from our monarchies and feudal empires where there is a clear top-down component into our modern democracies where you don’t need an empowering king."

Read more...

See also: Holacracy

Personal Experience

Excerpt from The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman:

Television is a form of one-way entertainment, but that's not how people want to think about it. They want to believe they're somehow involved.

This is why they talk back to the TV. This is why they get upset if certain characters don't behave in a likable fashion.

This is why they complain when the story moves further from their own personal definition of interesting.

This is why they criticize boring episodes on the Internet and expect the show's writers to study their thoughts and care what they think.

This is why they love shows that involve voting. They believe their personal experience with television effects what television is.

But television is the only place where this belief exists. Within their actual life, they feel powerless. They believe voting is frivolous. They think caring is a risk. They assume they have no control over anything, so they don't even try.

They perceive reality backward.

A Textbook Example

Excerpt from ''How Christian Were the Founders?” by Russell Shorto, New York Times (February 11, 2009):

brown-bear“Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” It’s not an especially subversive-sounding title, but the author of this 1967 children’s picture book, Bill Martin Jr., lost his place in the Texas social-studies guidelines at last month’s board meeting due to what was thought to be un-American activity — to be precise, “very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system.” Martin, the creator of 300 children’s books, was removed from the list of cultural figures approved for study by third graders in the blizzard of amendments offered by board members…

…The [Texas school] board has the power to accept, reject or rewrite the [Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills], and over the past few years, in language arts, science and now social studies, the members have done all of the above. Yet few of these elected overseers are trained in the fields they are reviewing. “In general, the board members don’t know anything at all about content,” Tom Barber, the textbook executive, says. Kathy Miller, the watchdog, who has been monitoring the board for 15 years, says, referring to Don McLeroy and another board member: “It is the most crazy-making thing to sit there and watch a dentist and an insurance salesman rewrite curriculum standards in science and history. Last year, Don McLeroy believed he was smarter than the National Academy of Sciences, and he now believes he’s smarter than professors of American history.”

In this case, one board member sent an e-mail message with a reference to “Ethical Marxism,” by Bill Martin, to another board member, who suggested that anyone who wrote a book with such a title did not belong in the TEKS. As it turned out, Bill Martin and Bill Martin Jr. are two different people. But by that time, the author of “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” was out. “That’s a perfect example of these people’s lack of knowledge,” Miller says. “They’re coming forward with hundreds of amendments at the last minute. Don McLeroy had a four-inch stack of amendments, and they all just voted on them, whether or not they actually knew the content. What we witnessed in January was a textbook example of how not to develop textbook standards.”

Another World

"Il y a un autre monde mais il est dans celui-ci."

~ Paul Éluard

this-world

Talking of Power and Love
by Paul Éluard

Between all my torments between death and self
Between my despair and the reason for living
There is injustice and this evil of men
That I cannot accept there is my anger

There are the blood-coloured fighters of Spain
There are the sky-coloured fighters of Greece
The bread the blood the sky and the right to hope
For all the innocents who hate evil

The light is always close to dying
Life always ready to become earth
But spring is reborn that is never done with
A bud lifts from dark and the warmth settles

And the warmth will have the right of the selfish
Their atrophied senses will not resist
I hear the fire talk lightly of coolness
I hear a man speak what he has not known

You who were my flesh’s sensitive conscience
You I love forever you who made me
You will not tolerate oppression or injury
You’ll sing in dream of earthly happiness
You’ll dream of freedom and I’ll continue you

Vacuums Around Vacuums

“We had this confluence of characters—and I use that term very carefully—that Vanity Fair illustration by Riskoincluded people like Powell, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, and so forth, which allowed one perception to be ‘the dream team.’ It allowed everybody to believe that this Sarah Palin–like president—because, let’s face it, that’s what he was—was going to be protected by this national-security elite, tested in the cauldrons of fire. What in effect happened was that a very astute, probably the most astute, bureaucratic entrepreneur I’ve ever run into in my life became the vice president of the United States.”

“He became vice president well before George Bush picked him. And he began to manipulate things from that point on, knowing that he was going to be able to convince this guy to pick him, knowing that he was then going to be able to wade into the vacuums that existed around George Bush—personality vacuum, character vacuum, details vacuum, experience vacuum.”

~ Lawrence Wilkerson, top aide and later chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from “Farewell to All That,” Vanity Fair (February 2009)

A Visceral Need for Order

From Talk of the Nation and All Things Considered (10.03.08):

New research shows that when people perceive they have no control over a given situation, they are more likely to see illusions, patterns where none exist and even believe in conspiracy theories. The study suggests that people impose imaginary order when no real order can be perceived.

"People see false patterns in all types of data," says Jennifer Whitson, one of the authors of the report, "This suggests that lacking control leads to a visceral need for order — even imaginary order."

Whitson is an assistant professor of management at the McCombs School of Business in the University of Texas-Austin.

Jennifer Whitson and Adam Galinsky

In short, people who felt that the world was beyond their control became so hungry for patterns and connections that their minds started just making them up.

But Whitson also found one way to help people who are feeling powerless to see the world the way it really is. In a different experiment, she asked volunteers who were feeling a lack of control to talk about a personal value that they consider important.

When these people were shown fuzzy, meaningless images, they did not see imaginary objects.

Maybe this could help in real life, Whitson says. When you're feeling powerless, maybe you should stop and think about what you really care about — something you do have control over.

Boogie Man

Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story

"My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The '80s were about acquiring -- acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn't I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn't I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don't know who will lead us through the '90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul."

~ Lee Atwater, from a February 1991 article for Life Magazine.