his is the 2nd part of Brad’s talk
Now, “power” is a multi-faceted word which can mean a lot of different things, and Merriam-Webster defines power in the following fashion: As a noun, “(1) A position of ascendancy over others; (2) the ability to act or produce an effect; (3) one that has control or authority; (4) physical might – also, mental or moral vigor; (5) the number of times as indicated by an exponent a number is to be multiplied by itself; (6) force of energy used to do work; (7) the amount by which an optical lens magnifies.” Also, “power,” as a verb, means: “To supply with power and especially with motive power.”
Some examples of such powers, then, would be: Electrical power, as in the ability to produce a flow of electrons through wires to light and heat our homes; mathematical power, as in 102 = 100; political power, as in the ability to hold a gun in our hands and force others to do our bidding; and economic or social power, as in the ability to produce goods and services in the marketplace.
For our concerns today, however, it is personal and intellectual power, as exemplified by definitions (2) and (4), that interest me the most – “the ability to act or produce an effect,” and “mental or moral vigor” – as I believe that even a small amount of reflection will make it clear to anyone that these two categories serve as the root for all other forms of power.
However, despite the fact that these forms of power, personal and intellectual, serve as the base for all other forms, I would contend to you today that it is precisely these that are the most ignored and evaded – and not only by our system and culture in general, but precisely by us, as individuals, as well. And yet, it is exactly in an understanding and exercise of such power that the answers to the myriad problems facing us today lie!
As an example, consider the local UDC laws here in Cheyenne, which forbid the establishment of particular forms of landscaping and regulate the design facades and setback distances of building construction. What is it that ultimately makes such laws possible? Yes, of course, the plundering politicians are a necessary ingredient for such events to occur – but, on a much more fundamental level, our compliance, as individuals, is also required. What would happen if a significant fraction of the population of Cheyenne were to simply refuse to recognize the validity or practice of such laws, and build and landscape as they wish on their own private property? What would happen if enough people were to simply “Just Say No!”?
Yes, some of us might end up in jail… But I would submit to you that there is simply not enough jail space in our jails to hold even a sizeable amount of this city’s population in the event of such an occurrence. And I would also submit to you that were enough us – not even a majority, and not even a large minority, just enough of a percentage to cause major headaches for the looters currently pointing their guns at our heads – to act in such a civilly disobedient fashion, the combination and synergy of all our personal powers would grind such systems of coercion to a halt.
And if you don’t think that’s true, history says otherwise. Remember, if you will, our very own Revolution and our Declaration of Independence of 1776, where a minority – not a majority – of individuals spoke up and declared to the world, “We don’t need a ruler!” The power of coercion, when placed against the power of morally and rationally sound ideas, simply cannot compete, and the so-called “ineffectual” power of such ideas have toppled Kings and Dictators time and time again.
And lest you think that the example of our own Revolution was merely a historical exception to the general power of the rule of the thug, I would caution you to consider two other examples as well: Mahatma Gandhi’s toppling of British rule in India in 1947 and Lech Walesa’s toppling of Communist rule in Poland throughout the 1980s, culminating in his election in 1990 as Poland’s first democratically elected president.
What were the weapons employed by these two men? Not violence and force of arms, but… Boycotts, resistance and civil disobedience. By the use of such means, both of these men were able to crystallize and coalesce the tremendous personal powers of each of their nation’s citizens into mighty social forces that wiped their respective dictators out of commission. However, be advised: Consistency and integrity in the practice of such methods is a crucial requirement – and it was Gandhi, himself, in one short sentence, who summarized the means of asserting such tremendous personal and social power: “You must become the change you wish to see in the world.”
If you still doubt the revolutionary power inherent in such ideas and practices, be advised that your enemies certainly do not:
end of part 2.