Power. What is power? It’s the electrical currents we depend on for our lights and heat. Power. It a mathematical function equation that makes number much greater like 33 or 210. Power. It’s the ability of someone having a capability of doing something in a certain way, like the power of speech. Power. It is moving with great speed or force. Power. It is the capacity or ability of a person to direct or influence others and the course of events. Power. It is authority, ruling, controlling, manipulating, supremacy. Power can be used to explain the universe and help and care for others. Power can be used to hurt and control others. Power.
And right now in our world through books, art, movies, blogs, fashion, governments, unions, corporations, the environment, and everywhere we look people are talking about and trying to define and redefine power. People are trying to claim their power back over their own lives through movements like #MeToo and #BLM. People are so scared of losing the little power they have, so they are clinging to hashtags like #MAGA. People are looking to a leader or a group as the only way to get the power like candidates, presidents, parties, activists. We see even world leaders consolidating power throughout the world by changing constitutions to lengthen term limits and rigging elections. People are willingly giving their own power and critical thinking minds away to demagogues of the media, trolls, fake news, isolationism, and extreme individualism. Power. And so many people are too lazy to even realize what is going on. We are facing a time in the world when we must go beyond ourselves and our experiences and realize what is happening…that the powerful are becoming too powerful. And the community is fragmenting. We are not willing to talk with people different from us. So many people are not even willing to live in the same community with neighbors who look different from them.
I am worried we are heading down the path that the Israelites did in the Bible in the book 1 Samuel. They had been doing fine as a society being ruled by judges and the community policing themselves. In 1 Samuel 8 as Samuel is getting older and his sons have been placed as judges the people of Israel ask for a king. They want a king to rule over them—to ride into battle before them and govern them—because they want to be like the other nations. They want a king. God warns through Samuel the people saying the king will take your daughters and sons and take your lands and flocks. And they still after all that wanted a king. They had become lazy in governing themselves. They wanted to be entertained and told want to think. They had bought into the myopic viewpoint of a king being a savior for them that they did not think of the consequences. They wanted to give up their power for the comfort of no responsibility and ignorance. And I keep wondering maybe we are like them. That some people today are trying to reclaim their power by giving it up and that results in losing it completely. Sound familiar?
We were never to be ruled by a king. And in some messed up way our culture of social media and news consumption being so high we have created a king. He tweets out his decrees and we listen and we discuss them even if we do not agree. What’s the king going to say next? We wonder when we wake up in the morning. And in some way maybe by feeding this monstrous king we are making him grow into more power. This illusion of power he has makes others fear him. Maybe it is time for us to stop feeding him with our attention.
Power. Good vs. evil is a struggle for power. The light that will beat the darkness. We are so obsessed with this in our culture: look at the biggest movie/book franchises like Star Wars, Marvel’s Avengers, Justice League, Harry Potter and so much more. Good guys who destroy the evil who wants power over the world/universe. We are craving to see the good guys win. When in reality we need to be watching or reading more modern history and dystopia novels like The Hunger Games. Why? Because they teach and remind us that power corrupts, and that those who might look innocuous or good if they consolidate too much power they will do harm.
We need to be claiming our power back as community and our individual power. We need to be not giving so much airtime to people who do not have critical thinking skills or live in a self-made bubble of sameness. We need to start working toward building community and not tearing it apart. We need to listen to God calling us to a life of caring for each other and loving our neighbors. We need to support the oppressed and silenced in society and the world who have been stripped of their voices by those corrupt powers. We need start questioning and shifting through the crap we are reading that could be misinformation. We need to not accept everything as truth. We need to stop being lazy and start thinking critically. We need to realize God didn’t want us to have a king—so we should stop trying to create one.
Poor man wanna be rich,
Rich man wanna be king,
And a king ain’t satisfied,
’til he rules everything,
– Bruce Springsteen, “Badlands”