Power


Imagine if you will, that you woke up one day and possessed the power of telekinesis. The power to manipulate matter with your mind. Imagine you could lift a car from a pinned accident victim. You could stop the flow of a river, redirect the wind. Stop someone’s heart, break someone’s arm. Empty a cash machine of all its money. All just by thinking it. I’ve been watching the Netflix series, “Stranger Things” where one of the characters has this power. The truth is, we all desire power. All of us. Presidents and governments desire power. A farmer desires power. Even a Buddhist monk, who has renounced all desire, has the desire to control their own desire. We all seek power and control, of one sort or another. So you wake up one day and discover that you have this power. You couldn’t use it without someone finding out about it. In today’s world, that would be impossible. What do you think would happen to you, once people found out about your power?

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you won the lottery? We’ve all seen these multi-million dollar lotteries being won by ordinary people and many of us have daydreamed about what we would do if it was us who won. Pay off all your bills, take trips around the world, give to charities, share it with family and friends. (You notice I said “share it” last!) I’ve thought about it. I’m pretty sure most people have. Why? Because we have desires. So what do you think would happen if you suddenly had telekinesis? People who win huge lottery payouts report that suddenly people from everywhere start requesting money. Thousands of people they don’t know want them to give them money. Winners have had to move. Change their phone numbers, hire security. All because other people desire to have what you have or desire to use what you have to achieve their own desires. The reason I’m focusing on telekinesis is because it represents enormous power. And power and control is the most desirable thing in the world.

You would immediately be courted by your government. And probably other governments as well. And private companies and institutions. All of them of course, would have noble and lofty reasons why you should be their ally. You could end war and famine. Bring rain to drought stricken areas, stop forest fires and hurricanes. Heal broken bones and sickness. While all of these things seem great, the underlying desire would be for power. You would be sought as a weapon. A weapon against cancer? Wonderful, right? But a weapon, non the less. What government doesn’t seek weapons? All countries want security. And most of them see security in weapons of force. I know I’m concentrating on the darker side of human nature but all you have to do is pay attention to world news to see the dark side in action. (Sounds like a Star Wars reference.) Everyone wants power and control. Everyone.

So what would you do, if you had this power? It’s kind of like the question of what you would do if you won millions in the lottery. What would you do? Certainly they would start with appealing to your better nature. Look at all the good you could do, they would say, if you were on our side. We only want to help. We only want to make things better. And if you turned them down, how long would it take before they started to use threats and force? We are human after all. We have desires. Jealousy, envy. Am I being too dark? I don’t think so. I think the desire for power and control by governments is so strong that they would be willing to do anything to secure your power for themselves. Look at what’s happening today. Donald Trump was willing to shut down the government, putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work, just to get his wall. To get what he wants, others must suffer. Look at other governments and how they treat people. Millions suffer every day so that governments and others in power can have more power. And if you suddenly had great power? What do you think they would do to you?

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Expectations


I was talking to a friend the other day and she expressed that she was very disappointed that another friend had let her down. This friend had treated her with a fair amount of disrespect. I asked her why she was so disappointed in that and she replied that she expects people to treat others with respect. She treats others with respect and she expects them to do the same. That got me thinking about expectations. Why do we have expectations? Why do we expect certain things to happen, or to be a certain way? It’s an interesting concept that many of us have probably given little thought to. When I started thinking about it, a whole host of things came to light that I think are interesting. Maybe you will too.

The question of expectations brings up the issue of control. We have almost no control over anything that happens. And that’s a problem for a lot of people. People like control. They like their day to go a certain way. They like their children to behave, they like their jobs and their homes and environment to go in the way they expect things to go. They don’t like it when things get “out of control.” One of the big reasons we are disappointed is because things didn’t go the way we wanted them to. And that takes us back to expectations. We are disappointed because our expectations are not met.

If I ask a friend for help and they say no, I find that I’m disappointed. I think my friend should help me. I’ve helped him quite a few times after all, why won’t he help me when I need it? And then I blame my friend for my disappointment, when the truth is, my disappointment is my own fault. It’s my fault because I had an expectation that wasn’t met. There are many reasons why my friend might not help me when I ask. There’s at least a 50% chance at any given time that someone will not meet your expectations. Depending on a lot of variables, like how their day is going, what kind of mood they’re in, etc. So anytime you want something, if you have an expectation that that want will be met, you’re setting yourself up for a pretty fair chance that you’ll be disappointed. And this takes us back to control. We want things under our control, and we don’t like it when they’re not. So what can be done about that?

If we don’t have expectations, we will find that there’s a lot less disappointment in our lives. How can you do that? You have to give up the notion of control. And that can be hard. You have to make yourself understand that the only things you can control are the things you think, do, or say. Without force, you cannot control anything anyone else does. So when you expect something to go a certain way and it doesn’t, you have to realize that you had no way of controlling that situation. And because you couldn’t control it, having an expectation of the results just sets you up for disappointment. So can my friend really blame her other friend for the way she was treated? Or should she realize that she had an unrealistic expectation of how that situation should have went? Keeping in mind that this is not a license for people to be shitty human beings and blame others for expecting them not to be.

Should you be able to expect others to treat you with respect? In a perfect world, yes you should. But we don’t live in a perfect world. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t want people to treat us well. But if we don’t have the expectation that they will or they won’t, when they don’t, we won’t be disappointed. Controlling our own minds is something we can do. We can control how we think. We can decide not to have expectations about how things should go, giving up the illusion of control. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a situation to go a certain way, but when we expect it to go our way and it doesn’t, that’s when we run into trouble. Controlling our own thoughts, our own desires, is the only way we can control the amount of disappointment we suffer. And that’s a good goal, isn’t it? To be less disappointed makes room for more happiness.