Addiction of Power

So I went to a substance use and recovery class today as part of a HOPWA requirement. I don’t use drugs other than caffeine. Not out of a sense of morality, but one of practicality: I create better art when my mind isn’t any more muddled than it usually is. So I guess I don’t use out of a sense of write rather than right.

Yeah, yeah. Feel free to groan at that…

So why was it a requirement for me if I don’t use? Bureaucracy moves in mysterious ways. But that’s not the point of this piece, anyway, so we can just leave it that I was there. And of course with substance use, the catch phrase power of addiction comes to mind.

But later as I was walking to the library sorting out the characters Randy interacts with in That Fargo Kid – a novel I am revising – I started thinking of the addiction of power. For that’s essentially what the story is about. Through circumstances, Randy finds himself in positions where he wields heavy influence on those characters, each of which have their own particular set of issues and insecurities.

Whether his influence is good or bad as far as the other characters are concerned will be up to the reader. But for the purpose of this mini-essay, it’s enough to say the influence is there. And Randy can’t stop himself from wielding it.

Power corrupts and all that. But it is not quite as simple as such a clichéd slogan makes it out to be. For we need power to accomplish anything in this world. You can surely harm people with your power; but then again, how can you help them if you have no power?

I think part of the “trick” of life is recognizing the power you have at every single moment while simultaneously making a conscious decision about how you use it; a decision to use it for the Good.

Moral might be a better word than conscious in the above, though I dislike using that term since people tend to wrongly equivocate it with religion. What masks as ethics in contemporary culture is far too often just a list of precepts rather than actual thought-out moral belief.

Deliberate would fit, too.

So what is the best use of one’s power? The answer to that is dynamic and wholly dependent on the particular situation. But I am struck by the last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when she shared her power with the other slayers of the world.

In our rush to use our power we forget that sometimes the greatest power we have is letting others use theirs.

And I wasn’t intending to go political with this piece, but I can’t help but end up there. For right now, we have a Republican congress that is using its power to take away my power as a US citizen; to harm me and my family. Why? Because they can or think they can. Just because they have the power to pass anti-gay legislation doesn’t mean they should.