Big Fish, Little Fish

It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power

Working with others can offer such valuable insights into human nature & its’ multifaceted & paradoxical aspects. What particularly intrigues me is the dynamic nature of power relations in the workplace. For the most part, the jobs that I’ve held had top-down, rigidly-defined hierarchical structures where power was concentrated at the top and all below frantically scurried hither & thither to get recognized, validated, remunerated and elevated in the quotidian quest to get closer to the sweet nectar of power and influence at the top.

Power, like a desolating pestilence, pollutes whate’er it touches

Over the years, I’ve witnessed the most disgusting and disingenuous displays of self-promotion & exaggerated self-worth in the workplace that would make Napoleon or Hillary Clinton proud. In this period of increasing job losses & out-of-control living expenses, one can argue that, “Hey! You gotta do what you gotta do to get by. Gotta pay the bills and feed the kids!” This argument, although understandable to a certain extent, suffers from the absence of depth, backbone & an ethic of genuine cooperation and care. Lamentably, such shady and distressing ethics is encouraged in many workplaces as “looking out for number one” is the mantra that is pretty much part and parcel of the U.S economic order. I sometimes wonder if our consciousness has been so manipulated as to blind us all to the reality of our lives and what our true purpose is. Furthermore, living in such an aggressively individualistc society carries with it a tendency for many people to take advantage of others for their own profit. This obviously carries over to the workplace where one will readily find individuals willing to do whatever it takes to advance even if it means back-stabbing or stepping on others in order to get a larger slice of pie.

Power is something of which I am convinced there is no innocence this side of the womb

Power is precarious. Isn’t it funny (in a tragi-comedic sense)how some individuals tap-dance, bend-over & blow smoke on their way to the top only to be cut down and sent fleeing into obscurity the minute he/she falls out of favor with the powers that be or when the not-so-invisible-hand of the market slaps ’em back to reality? The fact of being a person of color makes this perilous ambition (i.e power) all the more worrisome to me.(I’m sure Colin Powell is still cursing his former boss for his elaborate web of lies concocted for the invasion of Iraq and berating himself as well for being so damn spineless and gullible). I am not against power per se. I am against the power of one individual or clique who use their positions abusively & under-handedly which seems to be an all-too-common tendency.

Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other

I have never bought into this anxiety-ridden false paradigm of playing up to power and have dealt with those in power on my own terms without compromising my dignity (“Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power~~Seneca“.) I have held positions of relative power only to be told by functional superiors (mostly morons) that I’m “too accomodating” or “too easy-going” towards “subordinates”. Well, damn any hierarchical structure if people are made to feel “less-than”. And damn those with power/influence who parade around as if they will live forever or have their positions/titles into perpetuity. I’m no team player in a system that has no balance, no decency, no imagination, no faith in people who, for the most part, want nothing more than to be treated with honesty & respect in an atmosphere of mutual support and common purpose.

Maybe I’m just a hopeless dreamer, a castaway in a sea of “go-getters-at-any-cost”…But I cannot fathom a world without dreams of making it better than what it is…and if one would simply look at the trail of human tears & suffering caused by those who get drunk on their own power & conceit, it’s not a pretty sight. American labor has been trashed by powerful egos & interests in pursuit of profits and prestige and in this era of contract work and at-will labor employment, we are really getting pissed on big time.

We have to take the time to reflect on the way in which we are being assaulted ( in varying degrees) by those who claim to be our “superiors”. More importantly, we need to critically cast our gaze at society as a whole and muster the courage to do something about it.



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