Thursday, September 01, 2011


I hate the feeling of being powerless.

I was reminded of yesterday as I left work: an e-mail, politely phrased and written in such a way as to seem as if the writer was doing a favor, but under the words was the concept "This is what we are going to be doing. Your opinion, while helpful, is not important."

It's times such as this that I feel so powerless about so many aspects of my life. Yes, I understand I have "the power to choose", but the power of choice is never an absolute that takes place in a vacuum; it is always constrained by the circumstances in which we exist.

Perhaps the most debilitating part of reminders of powerlessness is how they make me feel. Simply put, it drains the enthusiasm out of the activity in particular and life in general. Suddenly, the sense you can make an impact is gone, replaced by the real sense that you are essentially a "speaking tool" (as the Romans referred to slaves), there only to fill a particular purpose or purposes and nothing more. Tools, it may be recalled, have no power except that which is supplied to them. Likewise, the recipient of powerlessness is essentially the same: with the motive of the "blessing" of the activator, they simply sit on the stand, waiting.

The other debilitating part of the reminders of powerlessness is the how it impacts the environment. Spontaneity, drive, the urge to go the extra mile, initiative - all are drained away like a tsunami returning to the ocean, leaving only devastated fields and broken wreckage behind it. People may not always leave that environment but what it breeds - dullness, lack of initiative, lack of joy - would seem to be counterproductive.

But that, it seems to me, is not what they purveyors of powerlessness want. They often state they want strong individuals who are spontaneous, hardworking, takers of initiative - but what they truly want is individuals who will do what they desire with all of those qualities. Their need for power and control eclipses the ultimate need for the results they think they want.

Which, of course, is no fun for the speaking tools expected to produce such results.

It is a hard thing to realize that opinions and excellence in any part of one's life are not really wanted, that instead only the need to execute the demands of others is paramount.

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