Of the most dangerous human hungers is that for power over others’ behavior. This idea is cultivated early, with daddies teaching their little girls to be “princesses” and our student hopefuls that one day they, too, might become president.
Neither sentiment has anything to do with actually leading people — which requires skill and purpose — and everything to do with power over other people’s lives. However much one might want to marry the concept of “being president” and being successful, one cannot ignore that the president is singularly successful because he has power over the fates of people whom he or she does not know, not that he or she is a quality manager or a powerful leader.
What we end up with is an unnatural fascination with undirected power, which inevitably means that whomever controls that power chooses for what that power will be used. In other words, let’s build a big gun and give it to whatever leader we like so they can choose what to do with it.
Accompanying that lust for freestanding power is an equally dangerous hope to apportion the individual responsibility for personal fate and shouldering it upon a single figure, one in whom people wish to trust with blind faith and whom to credit with peace (or war).
The power of the people is something people most love to give away. Why? Because in the end, people are afraid of power and terrified of being held accountable for its use. There is no more greater sign of failure to manage yourself when everyone around you is managing themselves and know exactly when you fail or succeed. A society of capable individuals are the very best at managing themselves and communal affairs, for none are ignorant of the circumstances, sources or results of their own behavior, and should one among them choose to surrender their responsibility, they will be seen quick and sure for their abandonment of sense.
Gun ownership is a beautiful example. Those who are afraid to carry it, themselves, don’t wish to appear as the only vulnerable element of a society full of men perfectly capable and willing of defending themselves against each other. Instead, to remove both the power and responsibility is a more comforting thought to those who don’t want it for themselves. However, when a society surrenders its individual right to own weapons, the only ones left with such power are those who would abuse it, for they are not deceived in the benefits of retaining that power in hand. If our criminals would know that surrendering that power is a bad idea, why don’t the very citizens with whom we can trust such power!?
Keeping weapons in the hands of every individual versus consolidating it under single control is known as distributive power, which creates the most stability in a society that every individual is most prepared to manage his or her own life, safety and success.
We ought to consider digging out this worship of unified power from ourselves and our children and instead learn to manage the natural power within each of us — the ability to manage and seek for our own benefit and the benefit we may voluntarily offer to those around us as capable, intelligent human beings.
We must stop shirking the responsibility we have as intelligent beings by asking others to make difficult decisions for us. That means stop asking the president, governor, or mayor to control our diets. Our educations. Or the companies we have a responsibility to vet, ourselves. We must become a people of individual discernment, in which we learn to hear lies when we see them, expect results by those who promise them, assess quality by those who sell it, and generate value for others to trade with.
Our responsibility is to treat everyone as if they, too, must exercise that same responsibility, that we all hold each other to the highest standards of money management, personal behavior, community regard and respect others’ ability to believe in something sacred. It is not socialist to recognize that we all need each other and that we live in community. It is tyrannical, however, to believe that it takes a few to force the many to any single belief system, or that we should even share a single belief system. It seems neat and clean that one could think of power being used to streamline processes, but we know that central planning only breeds the highest of waste.
You need not be a king or queen to rule yourself. All you need is the willingness to shoulder the responsibility of your skills and your actions. Circumstances will rarely favor you if you do not exercise your ability to change them from the inside out. Ask not what your country can do for you, nor that you might be obligated to do for your country, but that you can first do within yourself, and in so acting the responsible individual, breed a society of capability and self sufficiency, where those in need are the very few who cannot, versus the growing many who would rather not.
End this worship of royalty by which we breed social irresponsibility, the want to be taken cared of by those whom you cannot trust, and the concept that controlling other people is even something to be appropriately desired. You have enough trouble controlling yourself. Stop expecting other people to have any greater capability of controlling your problems than you do.
Do it yourself, demand others do for themselves, and you will never need an earthly ruler again.