The culture of power is one that has existed since the beginning of time. Emperors traveled far and wide to broaden their influence, philosophers, alchemists, and warriors challenged one another. Although our territories have becomes states and our warriors are paid by our leaders, power remains something we all strive for.
Some of us may not recognize our own ambitions as power-searches, but even our attempt to be fashionable or attractive has a direct correlation to our influence on and over others. We rank ourselves against one another and against images our society projects as ideals. In the district, power is more palpable, as actions taken can directly save or damn thousands of lives, make some rich or others poor. In a city where money is not the ultimate marker of success, titles and recognition prop up those who seek to have influence over others.
Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend about communication styles. He stated that he did not see a reason to be diplomatic as our conversations were casual (and essentially off the record), and what he said to me would not lead to a loss of votes if he was up for election. I understand this viewpoint but I tend to hold a slightly different position. I believe the conversations that are most valuable are the ones that occur off the record, because that is where we live. Statements we make to the public about ourselves, whether it be in our appearance or the groups we are apart of are not reflective of the true spaces in which we live. The real life occurs in our conversations, literal and metaphorical that we have each day as we interact with others.
The real votes that I would hope to win are within those off the record conversations. One of my heroes also chose to side-step the circles of power, and to win his votes within the hearts of man. He didn’t put out a large marketing campaign aimed at being ‘The Man Women Love, and Men Wish They Could Be’. He instead interacted with people one-on-one, choosing to listen to the stories of their lives and did so with honesty and compassion. Many men may win admiration by placing themselves on a pedestal but it takes true love to win the respect of a man in a conversation. This is why I believe that those ‘off the record’ conversation merit attention and sensitivity.
A friend of mine in San Diego recently called to tell me about a Radio DJ who had shocked and disturbed him. This particular radio-personality had spoken of his Christian faith in no uncertain terms but had also expressed how he did not care how those who heard him felt about what he was saying. Although I do not believe those in opposition to my beliefs should render me silent, I do believe truth or connection occur much more clearly within conversation. Radio and other multi-media forums remove the ability for a two way conversation, which in the case of my friend led to a feeling of frustration and ambiguity.
This may be the largest challenge with running for an elected office, as campaigns and persuasion of the masses removes ones ability to talk through issues to a point of understanding or clarity. I want to communicate with people, and have others communicate back to me. This is why I admire this particular leader so much- He was all about creating ways to communicate better with people. He was about relationship and connection, and not about the politics of power. He recognized that the real vote occurred in people hearts, not in their loyalty to a leader they did not know personally. Our society (and the society in which he lived) seldom appreciates leaders without stature and power. We want to have leaders who we can admire, emulate, and trust. I believe some of the most powerful leaders are not the ones who would likely get elected President of the United States, because, well where is the connection with peoples’ heart’s? And where does the real influence lie…