Power and Words

Let me just geek out for a moment…not to worry, this isn’t out of the world stuff, so just bear with me. One of the most exciting premises of quantum theory states that the very act of watching, “the observer,” affects the observed reality. Electrons can behave as particles or waves depending on an observer, and how they are observed. Until then, for example, when measuring light to determine whether it was a particle or a wave, (up until that time it had to be one or the other), it was discovered that it could be both, depending on the act of observation. While I’m not going to get into the particulars of the science here (although I did do so in a high school course I taught on science and religion) I simply want to stress the power an observer or participant in life has in shaping what that life looks like. We are active, and willing participants in what takes shape in our world.

There is also plenty of science out there to back up that attitude is everything when it comes to engaging in any endeavor, a new job, success in school, solving a problem, or facing a hardship. How we engage with the world has an impact on it, and what we believe about the world does too. So, the first step in my year of understanding power begins with what place you and I have in the balance. How does what I observe in terms of information, words I hear and read, affect the direction the the world takes?

I am reminded of the ripple effect, how our small acts in the world ripple outward to effect others in a way we may never know. I am even more mindful then, of how the words and information I take in impact the world. My goal is to take the gifts God has given me, and produce good fruit from them, How do I do that? One way is by being clear about the power of the information that I ingest everyday, and what it does to my sense of empowerment and impact in the world. I say this because of the amount of literal lies and misinformation out there, much of which is inappropriately under the guise of faith and religion. Jesus says that the truth will set us free, and I work hard to find out what that looks like in my life.

The Gospel of John begins: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. It is one I’ve always pondered over a lot over the years. Is God a particle or a wave? Something demonstrably impossible for us as humans to know, except through words, scripture, history, the testimony of Jesus who by his teachings and ministry show the observer where God’s power lies, and what it looks like as applied to life as a disciple of his message. The words of scripture have shaped who I am as an observer, my outlook on the world and how I behave in it. I would like to believe that the power of the Word, as John speaks of it, guides my every movement, and yet being human I know I have succumbed to becoming deaf to it when the voices of fear, hate, judgement and sadness seem too loud. The tether God has to me, though, by my personal belief and choice, brings me back eventually. While my circle may be small, I still take my influence in it very seriously…as we all should in our own circles. I know that my small ripple when combined with others does impact our world. As an observer, I want the fruits’ of my labor to build trust, love, faith, hope and ease fear, pain, anger and sadness. I want my power to reside in the words that Jesus left us, not in the structures of power built around him, that are limited to a human ability to hold to those truths.

Jesus, in his ministry often spoke of the power of words, he said that by our words we will be redeemed and by our words we will be condemned. He also said anyone who would lead astray the likes of these (children) would be like having a millstone around their neck in the depth of the ocean. We must humble ourselves to be as children, who are curious and open to the world, and that when God is with us, there is nothing that can keep us down. That is my goal as an observer, to fill myself with awe at God’s power, to see God as he is meant to be seen and instill that into my world.

Power

What enables one to move or act in a particular way? Who or what has the capacity to influence the behavior of others or the course of events? What is the source of our ability to move and influence? And most often the most elusive, is understanding a source of power and where it comes from necessary in its function? i.e., just because I believe something is a source of power, does that make it so? Tough questions, and this year will be dedicated to the source, methods and effects of different kinds of power. Terrifying prospect, really. After all these years I am pretty sure that most people have a clear idea and belief about what their source of power is and how it fuels and sets the direction of their lives, and the types of power that control our destiny on a larger level…and I say right here and now, most people don’t have a clue, because I think most people just tell themselves what is necessary to keep believing what they want to believe. Why? Just look around you, this world can be pretty f’d up. But since I asked the question in sincerity and love to God, whom I believe is the source of all power, I expect to get an answer. For Jesus said,

Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him.

Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.

I take him at his word, whether I’m happy about the result remains to be seen. One thing I do know, at a point where I feel most powerless in a worldly sense, I have never felt more powerful in a spiritual sense…because to my core, I believe that it is the source of all my power.

A couple of things before I start. While I was being taught to draw by my cousin who is amazing artist, I learned to appreciate the subtle shades of grey that portray the final image. The subtle shifts from dark to light make all the difference in the world when bringing life to a drawing. You have to learn to see and shift the pencil in order to get it just right. I think power works the same way, it is clarified in subtle shades of grey. I think I am a pretty good observer at this point, but I can’t see every subtly. I will try, however, and it is my hope that the picture that emerges at the end will reflect the life of what I’ve come to understand about power..

A few themes have emerged so far: having power over vs, empowering, power of politics, power of religion, power of money, power of truth vs lies, the power of education and information, and the power of fear vs love. I’m sure more will appear, and they will be added as such.