Critics are men who watch a battle from a high place, then come down and shoot the survivors. -Ernest Hemingway
I was 11 when I learned how men will clamor for power and authority. Sitting along side my father I watched men wrangle, argue and get worked up. Cooperation was absent. Collaboration wasn’t even an afterthought. The only objective was, “Who is in charge?” And it was apparent to me that more than more man wanted the role. Hence, the wrangling.
Life rolled on and as a young teenager working in a stereo store I saw more of the pecking order. I’d grown up seeing it so it wasn’t new. First appearance was likely on the playground as we’d all try to figure out what we’d play. Invariably somebody installed themself as the contrarian – the person who would go against what everybody else wanted. I quickly realized it had nothing to do with preference and everything to do with control. Power. Authority. Hoping to gain an advantage that might be imposed on the rest of us. Thankfully, I grew up in an American that wasn’t yet awakened. #Woke Mostly, such tactics didn’t work because we refused to cooperate. Lemmingitus would arrive later in America. It’s now a global epidemic.
Bullies almost always ran up against a tougher opponent. Or a group of people who figured together they could conquer a single bully who might have a few buddies hanging on. I was still in elementary school when I learned a verbal punch to the mouth could back a bully down. Quickly. It didn’t hurt that I wasn’t a shrimpy kid. I was tall and husky. Husky was once a size of boy’s clothing. 😉 True.
Bravery to confront the bully wasn’t hard for me. Watching, listening, paying close attention taught me mostly there was substantially louder barking than actual biting. Besides, I wasn’t terribly afraid of being bitten. Justice and rightness were more important to me. And peace.
By the time I was in 6th grade I was a world-class peace keeper. Experience will do that. I’ve no way of knowing how many fights I broke up. Or how many arguments I shut down. Enough that it taught me lifelong lessons in how to do it successfully.
Mostly, I didn’t want to be in charge, but I didn’t want anybody else to be either. That is, I knew my parents were my authority – and God. But we’re all out here in the yard playing and why did we need somebody to be in charge? Seemed best that we all just work to some agreement so we could get on with the business of playing before it got dark and we all had to go home. Playing was way more fun than arguing or fussing.
I grew up. And increasingly saw men (I’m excluding women only because as a boy growing up my experience was mostly with other men) willing to behave poorly as they fought for positions of power. Or esteem.
Pride goeth before a fall.
I’d learned that from the Bible. Heard it preached at worship services. Knew Bible stories that illustrated it well.
Ecclesiastes 10:6 Fools are put in many high positions, while the rich occupy the low ones.
I believed it.
I confess I’ve never had a day where I thought I was the smartest person in the room. Or the playground. Or at work. Or in the classroom. Rather, I knew I was not. Always dissatisfied with current knowledge and understanding I sought to learn more. Curious enough to ask the stupid question, I’d blindly ask without much thought to how ridiculous it might make me look. I figured I looked and sounded ridiculous anyway, so I might as well know and understand whilst looking and sounding ridiculous!
As with most episodes, I’ve given this subject considerable thought for a long, long time. Mostly because my curiosity continues to grow on the subject of power, authority, control and tyranny.
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