Monday, July 20, 2009

Power 7/20/09


As I was walking home the other night, I saw a car, no, I felt a car, whiz by me at high speed and then saw it come to the intersection ahead, force two pedestrians to retreat to the curb, and then pull into traffic without hesitation or deference to the cars coming in either direction. As I reflected on the oft-repeated scene, I thought about how that driver felt in his/her 2,000 pound steel cocoon as he/she careened down a side street and veered into major traffic without slowing or so much as a look in either direction, forcing pedestrians and responsible drivers to avoid him/her; feeling powerful.

Power is a core element of life in many places. Those who have it protect it at all cost. Those who don't have it seek it. Those with it benefit personally from it without conscience as a matter of right, those without it endure their condition. Whatever particle of it one possesses is used as though it was absolute. Those with some fear only those with more. Those with more power fear only losing it to those with less who are seeking more.

To the extent of my limited experience, power is evidenced in every facet of life; at work, at play, driving a car, walking on the street, riding the Metro, buying at the Renik, selling at the Renik, crossing the street, paying a bill, business deals, social interactions, school and university, getting medical treatment, crossing the boarder; it's all about power. Those with it wield it like a club and those without it duck. When someone has a bigger club, you smile and say thank you for whatever they do or say. When two have the same size club, they acknowledge one another's power, step to the right and avoid unnecessary damage.

It is like two dogs we see meeting on the street below us. They may both strike a dominant pose, but eventually one will drop its head and acknowledge the other's dominance and further conflict is unnecessary. The only time two dogs fight is when neither is willing to "roll-over" or when the dominant one leads a pack that requires it to show its power to maintain it; much the same with humans. Young powerless males with enough alcohol and enough friends will inevitably have to prove their power by attacking some less capable or numerous person(s) or thing to prove that they are not powerless.

Wait a minute, that sounds like urban, ghetto America or even a gang of powerless high school, or even college, boys after the Friday night football game in a middle-class neighborhood looking for a lone victim upon whom they can prove their manhood. Well, powerless people have to prove themselves to their peers all over the world, I guess. That's not so much of a Russian thing; that's a "powerless attempting to exercise power" thing. Maybe I'd better rethink this whole scenario.

I'll get back to you on this.


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