Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Teacher Tom: The Proper and Moral Use of Power

Teacher Tom: The Proper and Moral Use of Power

The Proper and Moral Use of Power

Anthropologists tell us that our hunter-gatherer ancestors were not big fans of show-offs, nor did they take well to being bossed around. For 99 percent of our time on the planet, individuals who attempted to place themselves above others, who behaved arrogantly, who hoarded resources, or who attempted to exert control over others, were ridiculed, shamed, and if that didn't humble them, they were ousted from the band, left to fend for themselves in the big bad world. You see, these early humans knew about the dangers of placing undue power or resources into the hands of any one individual.

Today, of course, the opposite is true. In almost every area of life, we elevate the show-offs, believe that their claim to greater wealth than the rest of us is earned, and permit petty dictatorships to flourish from governments and board rooms to the ranks of shopping mall cops and, yes, even classrooms. When we cringe at the excesses of the powerful, we're revealing our hunter-gatherer heritage. When we protest, rebel, and even riot, we are following an urge as old as humanity. When we rail at the unfairness, the cruelty, and the crime of it all, we are "remembering" what we were meant to be and, whether we know it or not, we are mourning the fact that we've lost the thread and have handed the worst of us, the shameless and heartless, power over the best of us.

When I make these assertions, there are always those who will object. Certainly, the powerful aren't all bad. Some of CONTINUE READING: Teacher Tom: The Proper and Moral Use of Power