Saturday, February 7, 2009

September 17: POWER

Human beings are accustomed to feeling powerless. It is their uniqueness versus all the world, all of society. It is this powerlessness that makes us moan in pain against all the injustices perceived against us. And it is this powerlessness that makes us fight back, to use our power against the forces of the world.

We underestimate our powers.

Since few people are doing what I am doing, it is a struggle to proceed when society is not well structured for this kind of journey. Witness my anger at Buffalo Pound Lake. In ranting against big lawns and camper trailers I am using the power I have, and must be careful.

North American culture is enamored with this kind of trip. I have power because what I am doing is valued by society in a way they can relate to. I get free meals, lifts past dams, and other kinds of help. And, well, I like it too. I want to be able to encourage people, showing there are other ways of using space and time available to them if they want it. I belive these ways can be good for them and for the land. But I must be careful not to use my power as judgment against them. I have youth, freedom, and resourcefulness to do this, and while these are not necessary they are helpful.

So, I must use this power to encourage, not to judge. A difficult thing. Since we rarely recognize our power it gallops along without control, steamrolling the powerless mercilessly.

Day 88 ended: 49*52.718N, 098*23.943W


David Saff said...

"I have youth, freedom, and resourcefulness to do this, and while these are not necessary they are helpful."

How much of each could you give up before the trip became impossible? How much before it was beyond mortal powers?

John said...

I really agree and disagree with different parts of this post. It is true we have many more freedoms than we know, and many more powers as well, and many more yet that we know of, but choose not to exercise for a variety of reasons. Yet, I balk at the notion that there is some society in general that we are specifically the subjects of. There are only specific trends, specific flows of capital, specific arrangements of institutions, specific infrastructural interventions, and part of our assumed powerlessness comes from forgetting that.

Kevin Saff said...

David: Dunno, in the end I used all I had and some of other peoples as well. How do people know how much weight a bridge can hold?

John: I think any points I wanted to make when I wrote this post would have been better served by specific examples than this kind of generality. Although, I do think your comment is enlightening.

PsySal said...

Sometimes people I talk to, when they learn that I bike everywhere, seem to feel somehow guilty about not sharing this lifestyle. But I agree with you, it's a choice that I have by virtue of not a small number of factors working in my favor.

The temptation is to judge people, e.g., when they drive their cars even a few blocks to the supermarket, and I never thought of it before but I guess it is a kind of power; maybe the same a priest holds over his congregation?

So are you like a vedic guru on some kind of journey, creating awe in those around you who feel they lack the courage to carry on as you do?

Kevin Saff said...

That seems about right.

My mind is still blown by a half-forgotten quote I ran across a couple of years ago. It was to the effect that "Nonviolence is such a powerful tool we must be careful about the circumstances in which we apply it."

Except it sounded better.