She sat behind her elevated throne, in her pasty black cloak, with false power…looking down at each of us over her glasses …judging …she was the judge of courts at 701 Lubbock, after all. I was there to take care of a traffic ticket…orrrr seven, but that’s neither here nor there… and she was there to remind everyone that she was in charge, the head honcho, the one with the power to alter our futures—crooked our paths a bit—if she saw fit. I mean I get it…it’s work. Non-glamorous work at that, so I guess I shouldn’t expect her to greet folks with the same pleasantries that maybe, let’s say, the Welcome Committee who offers fluffy white clouds and unlimited powdered donuts (because calories don’t count in heaven!) to newcomers upon entering the pearly gates of life hereafter. Yes, I imagine these folks would be full of zeal and passion …compassion, as they would truly be doing the work they were called to do!
But this one …we’ll call her Judge Mida, just because that’s all I can think of …and perhaps she Mida been happier had she pursued career ambitions of becoming a dancer or singer or professional swimmer…or whatever would have made her life more pleasant (come on, let’s face it, no one says they want to be a judge when they grow up!). But Judge Mida was definitely without pleasantries. In fact, she never looked up from her papers while communicating with anyone. She sat in a permanent state of annoyance…completely unaffected.
However, she deserved the benefit of the doubt, like so many of us who live double lives: who we are in the privacy of our home vs. who we are in the public eye. I get that. So I excused her brashness, her melancholy tone, assumed she was having a bad day; that is, until I saw how she treated him.
He was maybe between the ages of 28 and 32…a tall, handsome Indian man. He had a sweet face. He spoke very little English, very difficult to understand …definitely not his first language! Even worse, he barely understood English. I listened …and cringed…as he attempted to explain his situation after pleading not-guilty and requesting to represent himself. Apparently, he was a taxi driver who left his cab running in a non-parking zone and was cited for the violation. Somehow he thought it best to represent himself. He didn’t stand a chance! Judge Mida shut him down….never allowing him to complete …or attempt to complete a sentence! It was so apparent that she didn’t have the patience for the language barrier. He continuously asked for clarification for which she obliged by speaking slower and louder…WHILE denying his plea. Perhaps he didn’t understand the rules. Perhaps there was something about his particular situation that made him believe he was wronged. Truthfully, I don’t recall all of the details of his case …just the dehumanization of his experience. It was incredibly sad for me to watch.
And perhaps Judge Mida was irritated and felt it a waste of her time to deal with such a case. But it was her job, and it did require her time…he required her time.
Here’s the thing…its hard to not be that person…that Powerfool, who finds superiority in who they are or what they do in some way – whether economically, geographically, racially, religiously, gender-ly. I refer to this phenomenon as “DriverSeat Irony”: A state of mind and positioning where one becomes completely oblivious to another perspective due to a delusional sense of reality and inability to see outside of the parameters of one’s narrowed vision, due to circumstances; much like a driver in a car, required to give the right of way to passing pedestrians at stop lights, stop signs and in parking lots. As a driver, some of us may be a bit impatient with pedestrians, even fault them for walking slowly, or running in front of the vehicle …making last minute “I know the sign says don’t walk, but let me chance it anyway” runs across the street… and for the worst of us, cutting them off instead of allowing them to cross. There is a sense of empowerment or power that comes with being behind the wheel vs. being on foot. Behind the wheel, we’re typically on autopilot, intra-focused, in a rush to somewhere and find those pesty foot-goers, mere annoyances. As a pedestrian, however, our experience is completely different. We then become infuriated with THOSE rude, impatient, reckless, arrogant drivers who drive a lot like …well us or you…or me! You get my point! The irony! It’s not until roles are reversed that we began to see the world a little differently!
We are all on the same lateral plane of Humanity. No matter how much we try to convince ourselves otherwise, at one point or another we’ll find ourselves on either the high end or low end of the human spectrum …wanting/needing/powerless or giving/loving/powerful. But never are we exempt from the full experience of being human.
Sometimes that false sense of power can cloud our judgment and prevent us from receiving and giving true love and compassion. I find reflections to be the most effective way of learning about self and others. When we take the time to see from another’s point of view …the journey of self discovery is quick and rewarding. And if you’re really honest and open, you’ll find that not only can reflections be cast between yourself and another living person – your kids, your spouse, boss, co worker; but other forms as well – animals, art or nature!
Truth is, we are all Powerfools in some way or another…at one point or another, forgetting we once knew nothing, taking for granted our blessings and where they have placed us on a micro level, however failing to realize where we stand on a macro level – right side by side. If a bullet were to take me out today …IT, personified, would not determine its impact based on who I am, my skin color, gender or economic status …it would take me out just like anyone else. Our time here on Earth…with THINGS …and status …and more THINGS …and this bitter sweet freedom to choose …has robbed humanity of the ability to empathize and feel compassion… we are now just down right self righteous.
Powerfools are everywhere… in all of us. We don’t just come in the form of blue and black vested enforcers of the law, or trigger happy territorial citizens… or dated, ass-backwards politicians. We are parents who think we can’t learn anything more from our kids or anyone for that matter; we are higher learning achievers who believe that our accomplishments and credentials make us more important, more valuable and/or more influential than the next; we are once poverty stricken, one parent home, food stamp collecting individuals who have made strides to better our positioning in life and forget from whence we come, never giving back; we are teachers who abuse our positions of authority to tamper with our youth AND their future success; we are men who use our strength and gurth to subjugate women in our homes and workplace; we are women who use soft spoken, lash flipping, hip swinging manipulation and our va-jay-jays …to make him stay or get our way! We are annoying, condescending, opportunist customers who truly believe the customer is always right even when sometimes we’re not. We are a race of humans who forget we are not in a race as humans. Rather we are all part of a collective voice, no matter, sex, creed, religion, economic status.
I believe that when we share our truths, remove the false sense of power, we can experience a more harmonious life and co-existence. Storytelling is the absolute best means to humanizing a group of people. Our stories, reveal the interconnectivity and commonalities we share, through our experiences, fears, desires, dreams. Our stories hold true Power, that reflect the times – past and present.
A PowerFOOL person, is foolish enough to think that its all about them. They believe that their life and perspective is more important than any other. A PowerFOOL person, is foolish enough to believe that they could possibly teach anyone anything. A PowerFOOL person is foolish enough to believe they can evoke forward moving change. A PowerFOOL person, is simply foolish and unlearned about self, others and the world around them.
However, a PowerFUL person, is a person FULL of compassion, knowledge of self – or at least the desire to know thyself. A PowerFUL person, understands that real POWER comes from within and is not the act of bringing down a person, people or idea in order to lift self. A PowerFUL person, is in FULL control of self, and looks to no one to make them feel any particular way. A PowerFUL person, understands that real POWER comes from uplifting, sharing of ideas and experiences, and sometimes falling on either end of the human spectrum… wanting/needing/powerless or giving/loving/powerful … in order to learn and teach.
That court experience, opened my eyes, allowing me to become more conscious and aware of how I treat people. All people. It’s so easy to judge and abuse my position of power, however in doing so I would have to know that I would soon fall upon the other end of the double edged sword! God forbid I travel to another country unlearned… about their culture, language, etc… boy will they have a field day with me!
There have been many notably heinous acts done in the name of the Ruling Kingdom of PowerFOOLS. However, if we’re honest with ourselves, the less heinous acts of everyday, layman PowerFOOLS – throwing rocks at the thief, or defaming or ostracizing the village whore – though not notable, do not go unnoticed, and perhaps are the “gateway” actions to joining forces with those who reign over all PowerFOOLS. Perhaps if we sought and found a little bit of ourselves in others… there might be less PowerFOOL people and more PowerFUL people.
Which are you? PowerFOOL…or POWERFUL?