Tag Archives: respect

Thoughts on the Power of Authority

Today, an online friend sent me the following message, I assume intended to inspire:

“THE POWER OF AUTHORITY: When we speak, we must speak with authority; when we walk, we must walk with authority; when we showcase our talents, we must showcase with authority; when we lead, we must lead with authority; in every aspect of our being, we must exercise authority. Our authority must be inspiring, respectful, and earned. We must contemplate profound ideas and share the profundity with others. We must exercise self-control and -respect. We must take charge of our present and future situations. We have a world to impact.”

For a number of reasons, this seemed to rub me the wrong way. Here’s how I responded to the message:

I respectfully must disagree. Responsibility comes before authority. We must do all these things with responsibility to prove that we are capable of shouldering the authority. One of those responsibilities is to defer to those with greater authority so that they can fulfill their responsibilities.

To be in authority without first having taken responsibility is to be a dictator.

But authority means more than simply to be “in control”. It also infers that we are “in the know” — that we are an authority means that we have devoted significant study to a thing and know it, understand it.

To claim to be an authority without first having studied the subject, is to be pompous (and ultimately a fool).

Even after years of study (and having been considered somewhat of an authority on the subject by myself as well as others), I would exercise more than self-control and self-respect, particularly when deciding which ideas were profound and whether or not any resulting “profundity” needed sharing. First, I think I would exercise self-examination, self-doubt and not a little caution. At the very least, all that I am sure of is that I am an authority on myself. Not on speaking, walking, showcasing, leading. Certainly not on being inspiring. I know about respectful. But who is to judge what measure is used to describe “earning” or “earned”?

There is only a need to take charge if the problem at hand requires the expertise, experience and skill that you possess. For example, if my present situation required the fixing of a faucet, I would call a plumber. But if that plumber needed a poem written, or music at their wedding, I might assume leadership. That’s the beauty of power-with, or egalitarian social structure. Like a circle, there is no head. The point on the line where direction is focused is based on the needs of the circle, not any individual — and the individuals who are most qualified and capable to address the issue at hand are those behind which I, who may be the “leader” at other times”, willingly follow.

We have a world to impact? Who are we to think it is OURS to change?

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Almost Famous

To be respected by your family,
those you like and know,
is often not enough acclaim
to satisfy; and so
we seek to become famous
in this lifetime or the next,
a bigger fish than all the rest
and so command respect.

As the sphere of your influence
expands, you gain some perks:
you get your way more often
and can boss around more jerks,
perhaps a bigger house or car,
more money in the bank,
a longer list of so-called friends
who think you owe them thanks.

From strangers, you gain envy;
from criminals, their lust;
and at some point, the tiny circle
that you know and trust
continues to diminish, until
they grow tired and leave,
exhausted from competing
with the users you believe
would be there if your fortunes
were one morning found reversed,
who only stroke your ego
as a way to line their purse.

I wanted to be famous once.
I thought it would be great
to live as if my word was law,
to die and lay in state
while mourners passed through teary-eyed,
my name upon their lips:
the mind, the face that changed the world,
that launched a thousand ships.

But now, I wonder at the point
of seeking such applause;
and seek instead a smaller crowd
of friends and kin, because
the bottom line is this, you know:
you get what we call fame
when people you don’t know or like
pretend to know your name.

30 APR 2006

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To Those Who Would Have Use of My Time

Each moment of my time has its own price;
and some cannot be purchased with mere coin.
Let my donation of it be my vice,
and cursed be those who would by ruse purloin
five minutes, nay, one instant without leave.
That being mine, it lacks the holy grace
of your own lifespan, I will not believe.

Yours trades for no more value by its face,
nor is it alloyed from ores of more worth.
There are some things for which my time is stored;
though just a few, they each claim sacred berths.
You would rob these slyly, and what’s more,
believe it chattel due some wage you pay.

But what I give my hours is mine to rank;
and there are more important things each day
than what results in funds placed in the bank.
Each moment of my time is not for hire,
nor is it leisure waiting your concern.

My candle’s length is not your source for fire;
and I alone choose how and what to burn.

20 JAN 2005

Aleister Crowley once said, and I liberally paraphrase, that if you love life you do not waste your time, for that is the primary measure applied against it. I dedicate this poem to telemarketers, spammers, door-to-door salesmen (of either tangible products or intangible salvation of some kind), clients who call after hours, and all those who would infringe upon my time without my express consent or request.

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Like the World Does Not Know

If all the world would find you lacking grace
and see in every thought and act some fault,
behind the smile that lights up your sweet face
discovering some dark and bitter vault,

if some belittle and would treat you poor
because your heart is open, reaching out,
believing it a weakness, nothing more,
or cast on your intentions scorn and doubt,

have faith that I have never been deceived
by those nay-saying cynic tongues that bite,
and will not place my trust in any voice

that speaks ill of you and would be believed.
When I look in your eyes, I know what’s right,
and choosing you, know love to be my choice.

09 SEP 2003

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