Stupid Sayings, Vol 2

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

This is another saying I hate. Power doesn’t corrupt. It can reveal corruption, of course.

Here’s the thing: If you have power–real, true, genuine power–you don’t need to cheat. I’ve seen the saying amended to “the fear of losing power corrupts”, and I think there’s a lot more truth to that.

The poor are not especially uncorrupted. A poor person–obviously, as a sheer matter of survival–is more likely to do something against his ethics system. A rich person has all his flaws, and he has the additional weakness of being subject to loss that a destitute person doesn’t, but the immediate, actual survival of his body is probably not a fruitful avenue for the universe to attack him.

How does this fit in with my previous post on honesty and the financial mess? Wasn’t it power that corrupted those people? No, not at all. They were corrupted long before they ever got into power. And a willingness to be corrupted was most likely how they got into power.

Stupid Sayings

That which does not kill me makes me stronger.

This one’s annoyed me for a long time. It’s demonstrably untrue at every level.

Physically? If I cut off your arms and legs, by what measure are you stronger physically?

Mentally? Victims of mental torture techniques are not known for their stability.

Spiritually? Even here, if you take as the measure of spiritual strength as an ability to maintain an honest, forthright position, spirtiual “damage” in the form of (say) corruption only makes further corruption easier.

Now, what various forms of abuse can reveal–reveal not create–is an awareness of exactly what one can endure. In these comfortable times, we’re not often pushed to anything close to our limits.

But the actual ability was always there. (We could argue the extent to which awareness equals ability but that’s for another time.)