THE EXCITEMENT OF LOSING POWER
Machiaveli’s The Prince spelled out the ways and means of preserving power. Robert Greene wrote books on ways to achieve and advance power. John Maxwell inspired readers and leaders with his works on the definition of power and in enhancing it. And there are scores of books, tracts, treatises and audio visuals including clips from youtube extolling power as the be-all of every act. That it must be the result of any effort.
And why not. It is in power that wealth, control, rule, command and everything almost wished for in the material world can be generated. Power is that magnet that attracts more clout, more influence, more strength. Power begets power. Every activity of modern man seems focused in acquiring power, be it in science, philosophy and religion. As the saying goes, “to the victors belong the spoils.”
Those considered power less on the other hand are the bums, slaves, prisoners and the great unwashed. They live along the fringes, almost alienated and completely ignored. Life does not revolve along the stream of powerlessness. That at least is what is contemplated in this side of the universe. To live means to have power.
This of course is pure conjecture, a fallacy so to speak. Power, real power, is never earned nor learned. It comes as a matter of reality on one who bears the qualification of humility. Power resides in simplicity. Those who never claim power or those who do not concern on power are the most powerful.
A character in Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose in responding to his Franciscan superior about his celebrated status quipped “I am praying hard to be forgotten.” That was a definitive statement that virtually reflected his superiority notwithstanding his wish to be debased and sullied.
The Papacy under Pope Francis even highlighted this concern during his first day. He asked his flock to bless him rather than go to the extent of summoning the heavens to bless the people. That was statement enough signaling that power is not what it seems as everything. It is actually in consciously losing power that is most desired and even more exciting.
Without a preconceive notion of power, man is left on his own. Adversity seldom, if at all, visit one who is shorn of power. Steve Jobs confessed that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Socrates, the philosopher’s philosopher even went further when he said that “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
Living, leading and expressing contentment do not revolve around power. It is not even a prescription for a fruitful promotion in rank or recognition. Worst, there is suffering in power.
Life therefore is not about seeking and imposing power, it is more about losing it and feeling complete. Ironically, those who never sought power and would even consciously deny it are the ones esteemed and remembered perpetually.