Culture and Society

What We Choose to Do With Power

We’ve never really been able to get this whole life thing done on our own. Since we descended from the trees and out of the wood to the grassy planes that showed us our first human goals of a horizon, we’ve been together. And since we’ve been together, we’ve taken up sides in the grand societal debate of man.

Do you care most about everyone having enough to make it over that horizon with you?

Or do you care most about everyone pulling their weight so that we have a shot of making it there at all.

Here’s a hint: There’s no right answer. And the societies that get over that horizon with enough of their souls left to stay there and enough momentum to go further, are the ones that never stop having the debate. And never declare a winner.

Yesterday Fox News let go one of its most lucrative on air personalities. If there’s a Mount Rushmore for cable news, Bill O’Reilly’s on it. He’s as talented a host in his domain as you will ever find. And he made the company he worked for and the shareholders that invested in it billions of dollars. There’s no debating that. O’Reilly’s audience is unquestioningly the card carrying members of the “pull your own weight” party. And what’s surely going to be pulled into the political gravitational pull that is the super massive black hole of Fox News, is whether or not he ought to have been fired. The risk, of course is that we once again argue that point along party lines. Which, I for one, would like us to avoid. So I thought I might be able to help.

Perhaps the greatest test of character anyone can meet is how you answer the following question: What do you do with the power you have over others?

The best answer is that you use it to further the greater good of the tribe. Which means that both sides of the perpetual political debate have great and just answers. Because making sure everyone has enough to get there or making sure everyone is pulling their own weight are both important and required parts of a sustainable society.  So there’s good news there for just about everyone. But you know what’s not? What’s not an important and required part of a sustainable society? Using your power to prey on women for sex. And doing it so often that you’ve paid at least five of them at least $13 million for their troubles.

So if you’ve found yourself suddenly defending Bill O’Reilly because he’s spent the last 20 years effectively talking to your political world view when so much of the rest of the media has lost their damned minds and gone crazy liberal, then you need to take a breath. Because this isn’t over sensitive liberals being snowflakes that can’t take it. This is a man with nearly unrivaled power in an industry, using it to gratify himself sexually at the expense of the careers, dignity and wellbeing of women who’ve done nothing other than pursue a career in an important industry.

If you’re for one thing, strong conservative values, then you aren’t for the other. And you need to let Bill O’Reilly go quietly away with his $25 million severance. Because if you don’t, you make it very hard for people to believe that your side of the great political debate of man isn’t really just a ploy to hold other people down so that the other Bill O’Reilly’s of the world can use whatever power they have over them to gratify themselves in whatever awful way they see fit.

I know that’s not what you mean. I hope you do too.

 

7 replies »

  1. Well written, Sean, and I agree. I would like to add though, that I chafe somewhat when you describe O’Reilly as talented, or when anyone attributes a degree of cleverness to the actions of someone such as Trump. Both men are as advertised, but in my opinion, a large part of their success is the fact that there are millions upon millions of americans, ready, willing and able to buy what they are selling without question.

    If I secured the franchise rights to sell ice water in Hell, that does not make me smart. All I would have needed was a good set of eyes to see all the burning, outstretched hands.

    Regarding your question about power over others, again, I agree with your answer. But, I long for a day when having power over another does not exist. A day when we are wise enough to recognize facts, and come to decisions based on having an open mind, instead of having someone like O’Reilly on TV every weeknight sliding HIS truth into gullible minds as easy as sliding an SD card into a camera.

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  2. Sorry to keep fawning, but man, what a lovely piece. You convey such authority, with clarity and precision even when writing about very abstract concepts. It is hard to argue against your logical skills.

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  3. The principle you speak to holds true for almost every issue of debate along our political/cultural divide. And that divide has been present since the dawn of mankind. The best words I’ve ever encountered on the subject are these: What is required of man, but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.

    I only add a remove– to do justice is not the same as to get justice.

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