[This discussion is a continuation of Chapter 7-I]
Must power always corrupt?
In a letter (dated April 5, 1887) to the Archbishop Mandell Creighton, regarding the reasons why the character of historical figures should be assessed relative to a universal moral standard of integrity, Lord Acton penned the famous quote “[p]ower tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
History is littered with the many tales of the rise and fall of nations. In most instances, the rise develops due to the influence of a strong will; and the subsequent fall results once the availability of great power outstrips the discipline and integrity of the leaders. The rise and fall of individuals follows a similar course. When one’s will is strong and focused, great progress occurs. However, when dark temptations succeed in subverting the attention of the will, precipitous fall is inevitable.
It requires a great deal of discipline for one to cultivate sexual energy. The emergence of internal power resulting from the cultivation process actually threatens one’s wellness (individual, as well as social) — if there is not a redoubled effort toward the continuing development of one’s discipline and integrity. Possession of an authoritative discipline and unflagging integrity is the true source of the power; from this springs a strong will. The sexual component is the icing on the cake — but its sweetness can lead quickly to downfall. One must the will positively directed!
In Chapter Four, we learned why human society (as a whole) is still working its way out of the darkness. The coincidence of a negatively directed will with a negatively directed receptivity continues to set the tone for our interactions, at both the individual and the institutional levels. While this climate of selfishness prevails, power will continue to be a corrupting influence – because power tends to expand the boundaries of that which contains it. Thus, even if one’s power is developed through the agencies of discipline and integrity, one must be careful to maintain focus upon that which is the basis for one’s power, and not the power itself. Once power becomes an end unto itself, all manner of evil follows.
“… [F]rom everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” — Luke 12:48 NASB
In the human realm, power actually manifests on three distinct levels; and on each level, there are the attendant hazards for potential corruption:
- Material Power — immediately visible, and its instances of manifestation are many. Such examples include physical beauty, the trappings of wealth, great size and strength, etc. At this level, corruption results from:
- Neglect of one’s responsibility for continuing development and maintenance of character.
- Ignorance of the fact that there are natural limits placed upon all things and processes.
- The passage of time itself, through which rhythm becomes manifest; for, as all things rise, so must they fall.
- Mental Power — manifested in the form of willpower, through which much social influence can be exerted. This is the province of Discipline. Corruption results from:
- All of the corrupting influences that operate against Material Power.
- Negative polarization (i.e., destructive impulses)
- Spiritual Power — the most subtle of the three forms of power, it manifests through increasing positive polarization of the mind. This is the domain of Integrity. Corruption results from:
- All of the corrupting influences that operate against Mental Power.
- Self-justification (Failure to acknowledge the existence of corrupting influences — and thus, the resistance to one’s responsibility to transmute them.)
Sexual energy is considered to be exceptionally volatile because it impacts humans on all three levels of the manifestation of power. For this reason, the various religions, spiritual traditions, and societies treat references to sexuality idiosyncratically, and with widely divergent approaches. It is the essence of creative (and destructive) energy, in the human realm.
Easy come, easy go
Although the discussion of the corruptions of mental and spiritual power is perhaps woven throughout the thread of this book, certain aspects of the corruptions that impact upon Material Power warrant specific mention here.
Power that derives from endowment has the greatest potential of giving rise to corruption. The seeds of its destruction are firmly in place from the very beginning. The benefits that attend such power begin to manifest long before there is any development of the individual’s character — and there is great potential for the individual to become spoiled. Alternately, because of a climate that encourages abuse (alas, we are still very much subject to the Bitch Politic, in our social affairs), there is a high potential for individuals who might actually be possessed of well-developed character to be victimized because of others’ corrupt responses to their endowments. Material power of this type often is bestowed upon an individual through the accident of birth (i.e., one is simply born into it).
Of particular relevance to our discussion is the manner in which corruption of material power both attracts and creates bitches.
A lotta money goes a long way, until it’s gone
Oftentimes, during their formative years, the children of privilege are insulated from the hardships that tend to provide not only character-building lessons, but also a sense of comradery with others. Unfortunately, in far too many instances, their parents might already have fallen victim to the corrupting influences of material power: they seek to set themselves apart from the masses in an attempt to protect the source of their sense of empowerment — which is nothing more than their access to an abundance of material. Interestingly, such children often reach maturity with little sense of value for anything: not even themselves. They have no value for the work that is required to manifest material power, because material was always freely available to them. They have little value for close relationships, owing to their early separateness from others; as there is often great psychological distance even from those with whom they form communities. Such individuals inherit a legacy which includes all three of the corrupting influences that plague those with material power.
Because the prevailing social climate reinforces the message “Money is power,” such people often develop strategies of manipulation of those who have less. And because of the individuals’ lack of character, others value them merely for their access to resources.
Many of today’s most unhappy teens probably made the honor roll last semester and plan to attend prestigious universities, according to research by psychologist Suniya Luthar, PhD, of Columbia University’s Teachers College. In a series of studies, Luthar found that adolescents reared in suburban homes with an average family income of $120,000 report higher rates of depression, anxiety and substance abuse than any other socioeconomic group of young Americans today.
“Families living in poverty face enormous challenges,” says Luthar, who has also studied mental health among low-income children. “But we can’t assume that things are serene at the other end.”
Among the many definitions of the word “beauty,” contained in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the very first will serve our purposes well:
[T]he quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit : loveliness
Also of interest is the derivation of the term “beauty”, as we read once again from Merriam-Webster:
Middle English beaute, bealte, from Anglo-French, from bel, beau beautiful, from Latin bellus pretty; akin to Latin bonus good — more at bounty
Based upon the above definitions, we can safely say that humans often consider that which is beautiful in other humans to be an abundance of something that somehow incites one’s sexual sensibilities.
Those who are possessed of uncommon physical beauty tend to face a host of developmental challenges. From the earliest age, these individuals experience the privilege of instantaneous recognition of their specialness by others. Frequently, others readily accommodate even the slightest whims of these individuals, owing to a magnetism that derives from their physical attractiveness. Obviously, in this case, the potentials for corruption are much the same as they are for the individual who has significant access to material resources. However, there is an additional factor: the Beautiful People exude sexual desirability.
Whenever sexuality enters the picture, the volatility that emerges in the social environment not only poses a risk of breeding corruption within the endowed individual, but it also places the individual at risk of becoming subject to the corruption of others. In a recent news story, one that quite clearly demonstrates this aspect of the Bitch Politic, we find the following pitiful commentary on modern society:
Girl Reportedly Asked to Leave Her Prom Because Dads Couldn’t Handle Her Dress
By Julian Kimble | May 13, 2014 | 1:51 PM EST
A homeschooled teen was reportedly asked to leave her homeschool prom because her dress was a problem for some of the dads in the building.
Clare Ettinger, seventeen [years old], claims she was kicked out of the Richmond, Va. event because the fathers present began staring at her and chatting among themselves in a creepy fashion. Detailing the events in a post on her sister’s blog, Ettinger said she and her friends were trying to enjoy the prom, when a chaperone approached and told her that the creepy dads said her “provocative” dancing was forcing them to have “impure thoughts.”
Ettinger, who says she wasn’t even dancing (she called it “swaying with the music”), was told that her dress was too short, even though it fulfilled the “fingertip length” requirement. What’s more, Ettinger, who described herself as “tall and fairly curvy,” said there were shorter girls present in even shorter dresses.
Soon after, Ettinger was asked to leave and her friends elected to do the same. When they asked for a refund, they were all told their money would be given back,though Ettinger said only she was refunded. She’s understandably pissed off:
The whole situation made me feel violated, walked over and ostracized. My group of five people had to leave the prom because I stuck out, I have long legs and I was wearing a sparkly dress, I didn’t look like most of the thirteen to fifteen-year-old girls there, I looked like a woman. And goddamn it, I am so tired of people who abuse their power to make women feel violated and ashamed because she has an ass, or has breasts, or has long legs.
Now that her prom has been ruined, Ettinger — who added that she’s “not responsible for some perverted forty-five-year-old dad lusting after [her]” — just wants her friends to get their money back.
The young woman in the story above had every right to feel violated. She was the victim of an abundance of physical power that brought to the surface the corruption of others. Hopefully, as she continues to mature, she will develop healthy strategies for managing those upon whom her sex appeal has such a powerful effect. Indeed, of those to whom much is given, so much more is required.
And then there’s the masculine side of the equation. There is no form of physical endowment that attracts more attention (from both males and females) than does an exceptionally large penis. The challenges faced by the male who is well-endowed are of a much different character than those faced by the exceptionally beautiful woman. All manner of corruption is attracted to these males, with the greatest risk being one’s becoming totally consumed by one’s sexuality (within a social context that encourages sexual involvement for males), to the neglect of the higher aspects of one’s character. In a fairly candid interview, on the British daytime television programme This Morning, Jonah Falcon revealed his experiences:
Jonah Falcon is something of a celebrity in his home city of New York for one very big reason: he is the owner of the world’s largest penis.
Measuring eight inches when flaccid and an impressive 13.5 inches when erect, the forty-one-year-old’s XL asset hit the headlines recently when the huge bulge in his trousers caused a security alert at San Francisco airport.
Today the well-endowed American told This Morning that the experience was nothing new for him and that he doesn’t see his over-sized appendage as anything special anymore. He said:
- “I was amused. What was the worst that was going to happen? Would I have to pull it out for them? I have been doing that all my life. It was more annoying that I had a two hour delay.”
Jonah, who is five feet [and] nine [inches tall] and has size ten feet, realised from a young age that he was different from the other boys.
The average length of a flaccid male organ measures in at three to four inches; Jonah’s is double that at a staggering eight inches in length. Depending on temperature, his penis can grow up to 13.5 inches when erect, something that has often taken his friends by surprise. He said:
- “I went to a mostly Jewish school, and I was the only one who was [uncircumcised] so I always thought that was what my classmates were fascinated by.”
It wasn’t [until] the age of nineteen that Jonah began putting his proud parts to the test. ‘I was pretty promiscuous. I am an actor and an only child so very much a show-off. At baseball camp, people made a big deal out of it so then I just went hog wild,’ he said.
Up until the age of twenty-five, Jonah was ruled by his surprisingly large penis, sleeping with lots of men and women:
- “I was trying to boost my own self-esteem and when I learnt that then I crashed and got burnt out, gaining weight I stopped caring.”
When it comes to relationships, Jonah, who has been single since 1996, finds that the women who stick around the longest are the older, more experienced ones. “They have been on that road before, they have evolved beyond sex and are looking for something beyond that.” he said.
And as for his sex life, he insists there are no complications. “I am extremely into foreplay. I am a performer, when the other person gets excited and enjoys then I am happy. I do have to be turned on, patience is the key, don’t expect me to get up immediately,” he said.
And his hidden “talent” has sparked worldwide curiosity: celebrities often call to ask him about it and Jonah has received lots of offers to join the porn industry which he continues to decline: “I can’t perform in public, I wear tight jeans but I won’t do anything in front of other people.”
He often has people stopping him in the street, but admits that’s because he enjoys wrapping his penis around his leg and wearing tight cycling shorts to make it all the more prominent. And whilst Jonah has received a lot of attention, he is worried that it may actually have a negative effect.
“I worry that it might cost me work. As an actor, do you think I’d ever work for Disney? I do these shows because I enjoy talking and I fancy myself as very intelligent but in back of my head I think what am I doing this for? There’s a very fine line between exploitation and prostitution and I concern myself with that; I think I have been on the right side.”
But former lothario Jonah isn’t worried about finding long lasting love.
“Having things come easy has made me lazy. I have just started putting effort in. I am moving forward and may be older, but it’s better late than never, I feel like a teenager that is suddenly becoming adult.”
And asked would he change anything about himself and his headline grabbing trouser department he insists absolutely not.
“This is me. When I look down on myself, I don’t see anything special but I still enjoy having something special, everyone does.”
Surprisingly, well-endowed males are those who are at greatest risk for all the ills that accompany a state of depletion. Owing to a greater number of opportunities to lose sperm through ejaculation, coupled with the prevalent lack of understanding about the value of seminal retention, these individuals are subject to burn-out (physical, mental, and spiritual); and many are quite unable to recover.
The interesting thing about material power is the immediacy and ease with which it can be used to elicit an anticipated response from others. Oftentimes, people spontaneously react to accommodate one’s physical expression of power long before they can ascertain whether their reactions are in their own best interest. Perhaps, the greatest danger occurs when the endowed individual becomes so captivated by his or her own projected majesty that nothing else matters. In such a situation, one becomes all-consuming and self-consumed; and the authentic influences of all others are shut out. This is the state of narcissism.
Narcissism and its various intricacies are so far-reaching as to place the broader topic well outside the scope of this work. However, because of its social impact, certain aspects of the narcissistic dynamic deserve mention:
- Narcissistic people tend to be endowed with physical characteristics that others find attractive; thus, they tend to become elevated in social status.
- Often held up as role models, it’s not until their downfall (usually as a result of their narcissism) that the extent of their narcissism is uncovered.
- Lacking any real ability to experience empathy with others, narcissistic parents tend to produce narcissistic children.
At its core, narcissism is fueled by one’s deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy, coupled with one’s inability to address the root-cause of the perceived inadequacy. Samuel López de Victoria, Ph.D., offers the following perspective of narcissists:
At the core of extreme narcissism is egotistical preoccupation with self, personal preferences, aspirations, needs, success, and how he/she is perceived by others. Some amount of basic narcissism is healthy, of course, but this type of narcissism is better termed as responsibly taking care of oneself. It is what I would call “normal” or “healthy” narcissism.
Extreme narcissists tend to be persons who move towards eventually cutting others off and becoming emotionally isolated. There are all types of levels on that road to isolation. Narcissists come in all shapes, sizes, and degrees. I would like to address how a person becomes an extreme narcissist.
Narcissism, in lay terms, basically means that a person is totally absorbed in self. The extreme narcissist is the center of his own universe. To an extreme narcissist, people are things to be used. It usually starts with a significant emotional wound or a series of them culminating in a major trauma of separation/attachment. No matter how socially skilled an extreme narcissist is, he has a major attachment dysfunction. The extreme narcissist is frozen in childhood. He became emotionally stuck at the time of his major trauma of separation/attachment.
On the topic of the popularity of narcissists, upon their initial entrance to a social situation, Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D. offers:
Narcissism involves unusually high levels of self-esteem, grandiosity, self-focus, and self-importance. Emmons (1984) distinguishes four facets of narcissism: Leadership/Authority (those who enjoy being a leader and being seen as an authority), Self-Absorption/Self Admiration (those who admire their own physical appearance and personality), Superiority/Arrogance (those who overestimate their own abilities), and Exploitativeness/Entitlement (those who enjoy manipulating and exploiting others and expect favors from others). Please note that these four facets are only moderately related to one another and there is a lot of variability amongst narcissists in terms of how their narcissism is expressed.
Narcissists don’t play well with others, and this becomes clearer in the long-term. Narcissists don’t tend to do well in long-term relationships, and suffer from all sorts of intra- and interpersonal problems. Paulhus (1998) found that after the seventh roughly 2.5 hour student work group session, narcissists were rated by the other members of the group as less agreeable, less well adjusted, less warm, and more hostile and arrogant.
But here’s the kicker (or paradox). In that same study, Paulhus found that after the first meeting, narcissists were rated as more agreeable, conscientious, open, competen[t], entertaining, and well-adjusted by the other members of the group. What a contrast to what the group members thought of the very same narcissistic individuals on the seventh day!
What’s going on here? What’s so attractive about narcissists, at least initially, that explains their popularity? What cues are they broadcasting? Which facets of the narcissist are most related to their popularity?
In a series of four very clever studies, Mitja D. Back and colleagues sought out to determine why narcissists are popular at “zero acquaintance.” They propose that narcissists are more popular at first sight because of the cues they produce, which people at first acquaintance can use to “thin-slice” and form an impression of that person without any further information about that person.
They investigated four cues which they hypothesized based on prior research (Berscheid & Reis, 1998) would be related to the popularity of narcissists at first sight and why people often describe narcissists as having a “charismatic air”: attractiveness, competence, interpersonal warmth, and humor. In the researcher’s own words:
- “we assume that narcissism predicts all of the four relevant cue domains — attractiveness, from their flashy and neat attire; interpersonal warmth, from their charming glances at strangers; competence, from their self-assured behavior; and humor, from their witty verbal expressions. As a result, they thus should enjoy greater initial popularity than non-narcissists (p. 134).”
Thus, narcissists are likely to rise to power more quickly than others. However, more often than not, their social power is not earned solely through legitimate means, but instead it results in large measure from their endowment. Once one amasses social credibility, the potential for the narcissist to breed corruption becomes quite high.
Unrecognized, unchecked, unavoidable
It seems that the short answer to the question of whether power always gives rise to corruption is a qualified “yes.” If one does not recognize one’s own power in any given situation, then one is unaware of the responsibilities that attend one’s possession of that power; and one is thus subject to the resulting corruptions of others. If one is aware of one’s own power, but neglects responsibility for the development of the discipline and integrity that are necessary to impose appropriate constraints upon that power, then internal corruption surely lies just around the bend.
In spite of the overarching negative polarization of the times, corruption needn’t be the unavoidable result of the cultivation of the males’ sexual power. Quite to the contrary, the discipline required of the individual to develop and harness that energy might serve to produce males who are an evolutionary improvement that our species has long awaited. The secret to success along this path is for the individual to remain conscious of the fact that no amount of power will ever shield one from pain. One must learn to embrace even pain itself as one’s ally, while not allowing pleasure to become one’s enemy. This is the truest form of transmutation.
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