I’ve mostly been a rule follower. For much of my life, at least in my head, I was a rebel; even though all evidence would say I was no such thing. Can you be a rebel and not rebel? In most societies the rule followers make up most of the citizens. They spend their lives dealing with the day to day chores of “getting by.” But these rule followers can see when the rules are wrong; when society has stopped being a passive environment in which you can seek the mundane without a care. When rule followers become rebels, the world explodes.
This, of course, has happened many times. The trigger for this transformation is often some minor abuse by the powers that be. Power seekers are the opposite of rule followers. Power seekers have an inner, moral obligation to seek power and personal gain that overrides all societal considerations; and as such, they seldom see the damage they are doing. In their eyes achieving their need for power is a greater good that everyone should want; in other words, they are some of the dumbest people on the planet—but they have power. They usually achieve this power by a willingness to use violence against the rule followers.
The willingness of the rule followers to remain passive for long periods, while enduring vile and often deadly treatment by the power seekers, is one of those human traits that doesn’t seem to make sense. But in the context of who the rule followers are, it is not surprising. They focus on small circles of influence as their entire world, usually family or small communities. What is going on in the bigger world becomes background noise; until it isn’t. These are the people who want to be left alone to live their lives; mundane or not, it is what they want. Seeking power, dominating other people is completely foreign to their existence. They are slow to recognize the evil that exists.
I have thought of the power seekers as the crazy people in the world. I know that is an amazingly simple explanation for a vast range of behavior; but to want to dominate (and harm) other people seems to mean crazy to me. So, were the power seekers always crazy, or did they become crazy because they sought power?
Anytime I think of madness, I can’t help myself I think of the photo of Tolstoy. The man was obviously brilliant in the extreme, but my guess is that he was totally crazy. His madness was directed at 500,000-word tomes, not conquering his fellow man. Sorry about tossing Tolstoy in.
In psychiatry there is the term hypersanity. This is not a common word in the profession but more like a theory. Hypersane people reach that state through a path involving insanity. Way beyond this blog but it amounts to reaching a new level of consciousness by delving into madness. Okay, you can stop laughing now.
It is striking to me how much time and energy we spend trying to understand madness and little time at all in understanding sanity. Sane people might be too boring? Crazy people are interesting?
For some time, the world has seemed out-of-order. Without order there is chaos. With chaos everything in life becomes more difficult. During this current period of chaos, the mundane existence of day-to-day life is more difficult with a greater level of stress. Why? Well, of course, we have the pandemic, we have unsettled politics, we have extreme weather, we have a society that seems split in significant ways, we have little that feels comfortable and normal. All that places great pressure on the rule followers. They really want to follow the rules, but what are the rules. Can each person have their own set of rules? Why are your rules different than mine?
Not sure if there is a trigger built in there that leads to greater chaos or not. I hope not. No one should want to turn the rule followers into the crazies; it’s not their nature and once it starts it is hard to stop.
But right now, it feels like the crazy power seekers are winning. Unfortunately, the power seekers have no goal beyond seeking power, and if they win, they will eventually just destroy everything because they know nothing else. Power and destruction seem to go hand in hand.
During my formative years, there was a kid who sat in the back of my 5th grade class and made dinosaurs out of clay. They were the most impressive dinosaurs anyone had ever seen. He never said anything and had little to do with the rest of the class. It was obvious to his classmates he was crazy. He was mostly ignored and never asked for anything except clay.
The other dominate male in the class was almost twice the size of any other boy. It was rumored that he was in his third attempt at 5th grade. He only did one thing; he hurt people. On the playground he would push people down and usually sit on them or stand on their legs. He laughed when kids cried. I don’t remember anyone saying he was crazy. He was something that existed in the world, and everyone had to adapt to the menace. The goal was to survive and make it to the 6th grade; hopefully, he would be held back another year. The teacher was literally afraid of the man/child so there was a good chance she would promote him no matter what his grades were; after all she had her own life to worry about.
What was odd is that the bully kid was the only one who talked to the dinosaur kid. By all accounts they were not even the same species, but they seemed to connect. Since on many days the bully kid was barred from going out to recess due to his previous antics on the day before, he would stay with the dinosaur kid, who never went out to recess (never knew the reason?); and they would talk. It was a strange friendship that seemed to flourish. By the end of the school year the dinosaur boy was going out to recess with his friend the bully, and neither were bothering anyone else.
Don’t know what happened to either one of them; but I have this warm feeling that their friendship survived into adulthood. We are all connected. It just takes a little effort, and maybe a bit of luck.