POWER
by David Eide .

When you get so attentive to "power" the real attributes are in danger of starving. This is true enough so we ask ourselves, "what were the essential reasons why you got into that groove? That is, looking at power, staring into it as if it were a monster from the movies that keeps appearing in your dreams.

Certainly one of the reasons was the discrepancy I felt between my own desires, dreams, and so on and the "posture" and "mannerism" and the "acts" of power, not simply in my own country but historical power as well. Can there be any more disillusioning experience, not simply in relation to personal aspiration but to human nature and its progress out of seeds of light?

And this disillusionment had a "route". It found its way through rationalization into all the processes of the man-made world; as much of it as I could comprehend at any rate. It was an uncanny route.

At the same time I saw that it is lethal not to understand, contemplate and make conscious decisions about Power. What one discovers is the responsibility of a democratic citizen. He must (1) understand the organization of the authority over him, that he consents to give up a certain degree of freedom for the security that the authority provides. In other words, the democratic citizen cannot allow himself or herself to become fused with the claims of power and authority. (2) Decide for himself the threshold point where that authority is no longer legitimate. Where it has usurped and corrupted the intention. There are so many questions involved with these principles.

First of all, there are hundreds if not thousands of sources of authority and power all with various strengths and weaknesses, all with their corruptions, their stresses, pressures and what not. There is the authority directly over the citizen in his work, under the authority of laws, in all the complexities and contingencies of his personal life. Then there are the more abstract authorities that certainly do exist but have a more or less tenuous hold on the particular citizen (perhaps not that citizen or that one but this one, yes)

The citizens relation to the general power of the state and the specific power that exists over him as he makes his way in whatever endeavor is determined by his personal interest; his own perception of what will further his best interest. What extends out beyond his personal interest becomes more and more peripheral, more and more misty, his desires more and more determined by common opinion and prejudices.

This is why it is imperative that the citizen develop his perceptions beyond his common interest, beyond his regional prejudice. Up to this point the citizen has been forced or asked by his society to formulate "public opinions" on economic matters, national political decision, war, budget, taxes. The citizen has formed opinions on these important matters to inform his representatives.

The key is finding some workable relation to power. Power that you have utterly no control over and yet is known and accountable. Power that wends its way through the simple and complex affairs of the day and that gives the impression that it is the "furthest development." Power that obfuscates itself through ceremony, rhetoric but begins at this point and ends at this, this, and that point. This is the great privilege and responsibility of the free citizen.

And one assumes that the best qualities and attributes of the individual come into play, that the amputations which exist in power do not exist in man's relation to the truth and that at some time the power is accountable to the truth. It can never be the other way around. Powers' necessity lessens as the citizens grow.

1987


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