How to claim your personal powerOctober 11, 2018
I would like to talk about personal power today, in response to the #FreedomFriday challenge posed by @EagleSpirit on Steemit. The topic is Freedom of Personal Power.
Addicted to servitude
Why is it that so many people seem to love their servitude, to be attached to it and even addicted to it? If that seems preposterous, think about the film The Shawshank Redemption. That was a film about long-term prisoners who, when they were released, having served their prison terms, and went back into Society, they found it hard – or even impossible – to cope.
They had become institutionalised. They had become used to having everything organised for them. They might have been working – for very low wages – and of course at the time the wages didn’t really matter because their food was being provided, their lodgings were being provided; they didn’t really have to think for themselves.
Once they were released, they suddenly had to take charge of their own lives. They had to become responsible for themselves.
Prisoners of convenience
That might seem an extreme example, but when you think of our modern society, it’s all about convenience. We’re on a treadmill. So many people are working hard – they’re trying to raise their families; they don’t have much time. They have to be at work early in the morning; sometimes they have more than one job to hold down – they’re run off their feet!
But at the same time, so many things are provided. If you feel hungry you can pop into a shop and get some cheap food, if you feel thirsty you can find something to drink, and if you feel tired you can pop into a coffee bar and get a caffeine fix.
Everything is there for us. We’ve got entertainment, leisure… we don’t really have to think very much about how to provide for ourselves.
In a way, the Homesteading movements are a response to that, because Homesteaders like to do things for themselves. There’s a concern that we’ve forgotten how to cook our own food, how to make own clothes – just how to do the things that our ancestors knew how to do.
Is there really a bad side to this? Surely it’s a good thing that we have this relatively easy society, that we have all this convenience. But when you’ve got that kind of system, there’s a danger that you can be lulled into a false sense of security.
I live in Scotland in the UK, and one thing I’ve noticed in the last couple of days, is that there are quite a lot of police around. Last night when I was driving home, I went into a garage forecourt, and as I was paying for my petrol, there were three policemen in the queue and they all had guns. I found this really worrying because time after time we’ve had debates in this country about whether the police should be armed, and the upshot is that most people in Britain don’t want this. Yet many police in Scotland are armed.
When I went out shopping today, I noticed there was a policeman in a café, and again, he was carrying a gun. It’s almost as if this is being normalised, a kind of creeping totalitarianism where you don’t even realise that your freedom is being taken away.
It could almost be compared to one of those purse seiner nets, where you get fish swimming about, totally unaware that they’re being encircled by a massive net that will eventually close in on them.
That’s what happened in Nazi Germany. Germany in the 19th century was a place where there was lots of free thought; there was a lot of advanced thinking and creative development, but it ended up as this totalitarian state, with terrible abuses.
I’m not wanting to be overly scare-mongering about these things, but I do think it’s important to constantly question things and to keep your mind free; not to just go along with all this ease and convenience.
Why is politics such a trigger point?
You can see how people get sucked into it, because politics is such a fraught subject. People get so angry about politics. Why is this?
If you having a gathering of friends and then the subject of the EU and Brexit comes up, or political parties, people start saying, “Don’t touch that subject!” Because they know that within minutes everyone’s going to be rowing, aggressive and hysterical.
Why is it that people get so hysterical about political parties? It’s because people latch onto their particular ideology. And that’s a way of making people give up their freedom, because they’re surrendering their authority to a kind of higher power.
So imagine you’re having a discussion with someone and they say, “I think this politician’s great!”, and you say “OK, but what do you think about the bombing that this politician has actually condoned?” If that person can discuss the issue calmly and rationally, that’s fine. But in many cases, that comment would trigger a really hysterical reaction along the lines of, “Oh, why do you say these stupid lefty things!” or “Why do you have these daft alt right notions?”
The reason that politics is not a subject most people can discuss calmly, is that they are defending their world view. They’re so terrified that their world view might be shattered, that they don’t even want to discuss it.
And that’s a sign that people have completely bought into this whole system.
Too many people want to surrender their power to a higher authority, or to an expert. Once you can free yourself from that, that’s how to reclaim your power.
About a year ago, my sister was at my house, and she was looking something up on my computer. She wanted to show me something on it. She went to the search engine – and I have an alternative search engine. Not Google. Because I’d found that Google was skewing its searches to this profile it had built for me.
When my sister got onto my computer, she immediately started searching for Google. And I said, “Actually that search engine that was there is fine!” She replied, “I think you’ll find that Google’s better.” She didn’t give any reason for that statement!
My sister is a very intelligent person. She’s a Professor. She’s taken a lot of exams and passed them with flying colours; she’s done a lot of great work. I respect and admire her so much. And I know the reason she gets these kind of fixated notions (because in that case she was not using the questioning part of her brain).
I might be wrong, maybe Google *is* better! But that’s not the point. The point is that my sister was shutting down all explanation; it was just, “Natalie’s being weird. Let’s search using Google, because that’s the obvious thing to do.”
Because that was her world view. If I had continued the conversation, and said, “Do you know that Google builds profiles on you and skews the results?” – she wouldn’t have wanted to even go there. It’s not that she thinks I’m stupid. It’s because she’s in danger of having her world view shattered.
Signing over your money
I remember listening to an interview with a very famous rock band based in Britain. This was a few years ago, and it was quite a funny interview.
They were talking about how they’d had their money stolen in the 1970s. They were at the height of their power, doing gigs all over the world; enjoying the drugs and the sex, and the rock ‘n roll lifestyle.
Their accountant said to them, “Hey, I never get to see you guys! I’ve got all these bills to deal with. So why don’t you just sign these checks, and I’ll deal with the money!”
The band said, “That’s a great idea! Why don’t we just do that!” They were only interested in drinking, playing gigs and having a good time. So they signed all these blank cheques… and the next thing, all their money was gone!
I’m not saying that all accountants are bad! You need to use that expertise, but you have to be in charge of it. That’s the key. You have to be in charge of your affairs.
By all means, use the experts. I think the Homesteading movement is great, but it’s a balance of where you want to take that. You could do every single thing for yourself, because you think it’s so dangerous to let other people do it for you; or you could actually use those experts, but keep checking on them.
Check your bank statement. Check that you haven’t signed up to a direct debit for £6 and that they’re taking £60 instead.
It’s the same with the press. The media is meant to be the Fourth Estate. But are they doing that? They’re meant to be holding our government ministers and our “authorities” to account. But are they doing that job? Or do we need to do it for them? That’s what the independent media is about.
This is how I see personal power. It’s about taking responsibility. It’s about enjoying the conveniences that we have, but not allowing them to lull you into a stupor.
You’ve got to take charge of your life. It’s not difficult! It’s really just about allocating a little bit of time and effort.
It’s also about making sure you’re not getting completely sucked into having an ideological world view.
When I have something that I think is absolutely wonderful – someone on YouTube, or even some musicians that I love, or someone that I really admire – I will absolutely go out of my way to question them, because I don’t want to end up being enslaved to that person. I don’t want to surrender my power to them.
You have to realise that ultimately, you are the one in charge.
Be the change…
There’s a quote that’s often attributed to Gandhi – but actually it wasn’t Gandhi who said it.
“Be the change that you want to see in the world.”
However, Gandhi exemplified it, because he did actually change his way of life, and by doing that, he managed to bring about change in the wider world.
And it is up to us. We have to take charge of our lives. We have to realise that… there might be a higher power, but there’s no point waiting for that higher power to come and work things out!
It’s up to us. That’s what this life’s about.