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Forfeiting Our Power

Do you want to know what the heck is going on?

The truth is; you’ve got power; I’ve got power; we all have power.

The chaos and the turmoil rampant in society today is the result of our refusal to accept and employ our personal power for the collective good.

We refuse to believe that we control our own lives and how we feel; because if we accept that we are in charge, we must accept the burden of responsibility which comes along with it.

Rather than accept personal power and responsibility, we choose to compete for control over others. We seek freedom without responsibility; something for nothing.

Accepting responsibility also illuminates that I am responsible for more than just myself. I am responsible to others; to us collectively; to the environment; to the world. Aught, oh!

I have an exercise for you.

Get together with a friend. Don’t do this on a whim; you’ve got to frame this properly otherwise you are going to annoy your friend. The task is to uncover what your friend really wants.

Ask your friend, “What do you want?”

The first answer is usually something flip or simple or transparent. But you are going to go deep – seven layers deep.

If this person is willing to deep-dive with you, ask them why they want what they want? Then keep going.

“Why do you want that?” and keep going.

The deeper you go; the more revealing the inquiry becomes.

By the seventh level of asking why, you are usually down to what that person really wants.

Some people, rather than stepping down level by level, will conclude they just want to be happy. Getting too happy though usually takes you through stuff, people, events, accomplishments; external things that people believe ultimately provide happiness.

This can be a compelling exercise.

People will say they want stuff – houses, cars and toys of all kinds; they will say they want relationships – connection with others; and they will say they want experiences – achievements, the ability to travel or so on. They have different reasons and motivations for what they want, but it all leads back to feeling good; to being happy.

In simple terms we all say we want more; more stuff, more relationships, more experiences – more life. That’s exactly what life is for: to explore and experience, learn and grow, create and contribute; all to express more life.

Why then can’t we get along and cooperatively and collaboratively express more life?

The answer rests in our fundamental mistake of not accepting and embracing our personal power.

Every force has an opposing force; every asset represents a liability; every acquisition has a cost; every gift comes with a burden.

We, you and I, possess personal power. We have the power to direct our lives and determine for the most part where we go, what we do and how we feel. Accepting personal power is knowing the truth and setting ourselves free. However, freedom – personal power – comes with a cost, a burden. That burden, that cost is responsibility.

If we ultimately control our own lives then we must accept responsibility for what is; for what we do and don’t do; for what we accomplish and for where we fall short.

Responsibility is uncomfortable; it can be painful; it demands effort.

Responsibility is the cost accompanying power; the pain which comes with the pleasure of freedom. We’d rather avoid pain; so we reject responsibility.

Even in the Book of Genesis, Chapter 3, God inquires of the man if he ate from the forbidden tree, the man blames the woman, and the woman blames the serpent. From the beginning we have denied responsibility.

Instead of assuming our personal power we forfeit that personal power – we give it away. We stake our futures on external circumstances and controlling others.

Are you familiar with the Pareto Principle?

It is commonly known as the Eighty-twenty Rule.

The Eighty-twenty Rule is the recognition that some things matter more than other things and that some causes generate outsized results. Not that 80-20 is an absolute ratio but typically twenty percent of things matter and eighty percent do not.

Have you ever noticed that you wear twenty percent of your clothing about eighty percent of the time; that twenty percent of roadways carry eighty percent of traffic; that twenty percent of the population controls eighty percent of the world’s wealth?

A vital few things matter; the trivial many do not.

I bring up wealth here; and the concentration of wealth; because most people want more; more stuff; more things; more experiences; and to get those they want more money; more wealth.

Why do so relatively few have so much while so many have so little – in a world of such opulence?

Even if we eliminate the covid pandemic from consideration you’ve probably noticed growing discontent around America and around the world. When we experience economic turmoil, political and social turmoil follow.

Why is that?

In a world of more than enough for everyone; why are so many Americans and people all around the world embracing the politics of fear and hate?

We know life moves through cycles and we’ve seen this cycle before. The pendulum has swung away from “we” toward “me”; from accepting personal power and responsibility toward rejecting personal power and responsibility.

We have reached the “every man for himself” extreme again; where “me,” “me,” “me first” is the order of the day. We are fighting for control. It’s survival of the fittest in the jungles of time and space.

At this extreme we must decide either to commit suicide, destroying what we’ve built and ending the cycle, or claim our power and bear the burden of responsibility to turn ourselves in a new direction, a better direction – together.

How did we get from individuals forfeiting their power; to a worldwide mess?

It’s human nature and the nature of power.

We humans have uniquely powerful gifts but also glaring vulnerabilities.

On the one hand, we possess the ability to think which allows us to change perspectives, travel through time, and bridge to the realm of mind and spirit; and on the other, we must deal with instincts of fear and the need to conserve energy. And being social by nature we are susceptible to the influence of others – for better or for worse.

It only takes twenty percent of people getting on board to swing the pendulum one way or the other. As life changes and the pendulum swings, social influence accelerates our advance or decline.

It’s the nature of power which is the corroding influence.

We continue this theme in our next session.

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Written by

Scott F. Paradis