Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Myth of Power Scarcity

One of the things that becomes obvious the older or more mature (not always the same thing) you get is that there is no scarcity of power. You not having power, in this day and age, most often is a conscious decision. Be it you choosing not to educate yourself (and I am not talking about degrees here, some of the most educated people I know, have done it for themselves). You can choose not to let others have power over you most of the time. This of course discounts those wolves in society who would prey.

In the Neopagan community most arguments center around the “myth of power scarcity”. By this I mean they feel that there is only so much power to go around, and we need to horde it like dragons. How many of us have heard “So and so showed me no disrespect” or “Shop owner X lowered his/her prices just to screw me (Shop owner Y over”? I know I have. I’ve heard even more far-fetched ones.

The fact remains. Power scarcity is a myth. If there are only two Neopagans in an area. There is room for them both. If there is 100, there is room for all ideas, all views, more than one shop or coven or Grove etc.

But we return to the fact people fear loss of power. They see someone doing something they wish to do, meaning they can’t try. They see the success of others, as failure of their own dreams. I know that this has been a pattern I have followed for a long time. As I said the older I get, the less I care.

I recently started reading a rather interesting little book called “Meditations on Violence”. Now yes that is a rather macho title. It is in fact the opposite of Macho. It is a study in the myths of martial arts, and also the myths on self-defense. The author makes one very important observation early on. He is a corrections officer as well as a martial artist, and has a degree in Zoology. If you look at say a wolf pack. The adult male or female does not kill the Pups who get a little… over ambitious with their pl;ay fighting and bite the adult. Indeed they often romp with them. They seem to enjoy it. When adult wolves fight. They don’t fight to the death very often. He then goes onto describe the “monkey dance” which human males undergo.

Step one: What you lookin at?
Step two: I ain’t looking at nothing
Step three mutial self chest beating
Step for PUNCH

He said the best way to not playing in to this, (and by the Gods if I knew this years ago I would have had a less “interesting life” ) is to act bored.

Step one: What you lookin at?
Step Two: *Yawn* Nice day neighbor…looks away.
End (usually).

Power Struggles are like this. If you show boredom at the chest pounding. Show lack of concern for the situation (and by this I don’t mean for the other persons feelings, but that you don’t need their power) it will get diffused 9 times out of 10.

Now that tenth time? That is when the warrior needs to be awake, if appearing bored. I am often thinking to myself.

“Why are they doing this?” Understand where they are coming from
“What are their goals?” Are they really a threat, or are they socially inept, or perhaps just grumpy today?
“What can they do to me?” Seriously, will they physically, verbally, mentally, or spiritually attack me?
“If I back down, what do I loose?” Nothing usually. The wise warrior understands they should pick when, how, and how hard to fight. The last part is easy. Fight to win. You play fair in sparing, and competition. Real fights are to win. Second place is the looser. Know economy of force. If someone starts spreading a rumor to “take power” have evidence to combat this.

For example. “Hey Noinden likes to Tip Cows” is being spread. Responses that could be used “Cow tipping is a myth”, “Ahh so you were in the pasture with me?” “Yawn, sure is a nice day “. The first one leaves you open to the myth spreading. How do you know it’s a Myth? Trial and error? The middle one, is a funny come back, but is an escalation. Use it only if you have to fight, and follow it up with ten or so extra “strikes” do it to win, not for points, there is no gold medal. The last one? Well they will wonder what the hell happened?

Remember there is power for all.


Radio Ray said...

Very nice blog entry Noinden. As the only Bard among my closest pagan relations, I often have to show great social acumen with the occasional upstarts coming in to the community completeley sure they are the ultimate magicians, who walk this earth in order to be in spiritual control of everything and everyone.
The other members of the community often want to avoid being caught up in one of those "witch wars" that really do harm to the community,with the individual so they appear totally accepting of them, until they are gone and then try plotting and planning behind their backs.
In my experience then, it appears to be up to the Bard to listen to the egoist's bragging and show respect for their apparent self-confidence, then speak to the heart of what is honored by my community.
If we find a common ground that fits both our purposes of being in community with other pagans; its an invitation to share power in support of the community. If we do not find any common ground, then usually the individual does not feel that I've challenged their sense of self-empowerment
(one of the main reasons people choose the pagan/neo-pagan spirit path)and they leave our community alone. So I've succesfully defended my community, and convinced the person that no one is trying to take away their power.

Radio Ray said...

Nice blog Entry Noinden. Thanks for writing it. As the only Bard in my closest Pagan Community, I often feel I am required to show great social acumen in dealing with some of the upstarts that walk into the community claiming to be the great magician entitled to control all people and spirituality they chance to encounter.
Many of the other members of the community will appear completeley accepting of these egoists to there face, in order to avoid one of those "witch wars" that really do harm the community, only to start plotting and planning behind the persons back, furtherly putting stress on their community.
It falls to me then to listen respectfully to their self -aggrandizing ideas, then to speak to what I understand is at the heart of what's important in my pagan community. If past the bluster we can then find a common ground between them and the rest of the community, they will tend to feel inviteded to share the power in pursuing the groups ideals. If we cannot find common ground to work on, they'll usually move on without feeling that anyone is trying to take away their own personal sense of self-empowerment (I think a sense of self empowerment is the main reason most people choose the neo-pagan/pagan spiritual path).
Thanks again, for putting up the blog.