Man, proud man, drest in a little brief authority, most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d, glassy essence, like an angry ape, plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven, as make the angels weep. – Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
Experience constantly proves that every man who has power is impelled to abuse it. – Montesquieu
Power is always right, weakness always wrong. Power is always insolent and despotic. – Noah Webster
Power, like the diamond, dazzles the beholder, and also the wearer; it dignifies meanness; it magnifies littleness; to what is contemptible, it gives authority; to what is low, exaltation. – Charles Colton
The craving for power which characterizes the governing class in every nation is hostile to any limitation of the national sovereignty. – Albert Einstein
The possession of power over others is inherently destructive both to the possessor of power and to those over whom it is exercised. – George Herron
Apologies, Gentle Reader. Now and then the quotes I’ve collected over the years get the better of me and…well, you’ve seen the consequences. But they do serve a purpose.
It’s been my unsought experience to have encounters with a number of persons “dressed in a little brief authority,” who were determined to show me “who’s the boss.” Some of those encounters didn’t eventuate the way the “authority figure” expected. That’s partly because I’m a feisty sort, and partly because of my secret weapon: the ability to produce a roar like a whole herd of rutting bull elephants, while speaking with maximum clarity even so.
I don’t look like one who commands such a voice. And most of the time I’m as courteous toward others, including petty officials, as anyone else. But there have been times – several such – when the circumstances demanded it. And each of them has revealed something that the petty official dreads to have revealed: his fear of the public, and his uber-fear of having it put on display.
That’s their secret weakness: their fear of us. In truth, it’s the fear that we’ll realize their uselessness. The thought calls to mind a snippet from Atlas Shrugged:
He was seeing the enormity of the smallness of the enemy who was destroying the world. He felt as if, after a journey of years through a landscape of devastation, past the ruins of great factories, the wrecks of powerful engines, the bodies of invincible men, he had come upon the despoiler, expecting to find a giant—and had found a rat eager to scurry for cover at the first sound of a human step. If this is what has beaten us, he thought, the guilt is ours.
Their “authority” is their only asset. They must make you fear them to earn their daily bread. Strip the cover from it, and they stand naked before the world as what they really are: persons who have nothing of substance to offer anyone. No matter how numerous they become, or how formidable-sounding their titles, they are nothing. Their chief dread is that you’ll show them to be such.
Ponder that for a bit. I’ll be back with more later.