Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lessons for My Son: Fear and Doing the Right Thing

It is not power that corrupts but fear.  Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it. 

Most Burmese are familiar with the four a-gati, the four kinds of corruption. Chanda-gati, corruption induced by desire, is deviation from the right path in pursuit of bribes or for the sake of those one loves. Dosa-gati is taking the wrong path to spite those against whom one bears ill will, and moga-gati is aberration due to ignorance. But perhaps the worst of the four is bhaya-gati, for not only does bhaya, fear, stifle and slowly destroy all sense of right and wrong, it so often lies at the root of the other three kinds of corruption. Just as chanda-gati, when not the result of sheer avarice, can be caused by fear of want or fear of losing the goodwill of those one loves, so fear of being surpassed, humiliated or injured in some way can provide the impetus for ill will. 

And it would be difficult to dispel ignorance unless there is freedom to pursue the truth unfettered by fear. With so close a relationship between fear and corruption it is little wonder that in any society where fear is rife corruption in all forms becomes deeply entrenched. - Aung San Suu Kyi
The lesson today, Rowan, is that you must not let fear stop you from doing what you need to do or know to be the right course of action. Sometimes you will faced with choices- and none of them seem all that great. All of them may well stink, even. But everything you do in response to your pending decision- act directly, wait, stay silent, or act covertly- should be a deliberate willful act. You should not let fear dictate what your actions should be. You may lose (so-called) friends by acting. You may be seen in a bad light, at least for a while. But if you act out of your truth, with the greater good in mind (not just your ego gratification or self-interest), you will gain something greater than the company of fair-weather friends. You will gain power- and that is priceless.

Will Varner, Surveillance
Power comes from exercising the will despite any obstacles, be they tangible ("I don't have enough money to do that") or intangible ("If I do this, people will see me as foolish."). Power comes from living with integrity and acting with the same. Power is the witches' reward, but also hir awesome responsibility. What you do with that power defines who you are as a person. Are you a person who acts only in hir self-interest? Or are you someone who values tribe, community, and family? Are you a generous person, sharing your gifts with the world? Or are you a miser, clamping down so hard on what you have you crush its value yourself? It is up to you, Rowan.

For those times when you are afraid and aren't sure how to handle it, I leave you with this little gem from the mind of Frank Herbert, science fiction writer:
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
-The Litany Against Fear, from the Dune Series.


  1. Lovely!
    I wish I had been taught these things (Lessons...) when I was growing up. May have paved a smoother way for me. But, perhaps, the delays are blessing in disguise--I may not have appreciated the lessons the way they're supposed to be valued unless I had seen their truths in action.

    Reading this Lesson on Fear & Doing Right, *sigh* I kept thinking about my people and our plight, esp. what Suu Kyi said. I don't know how we'll ever conquer our fears, thus, ending corruption, unless God (in all our versions) decides to make a large, flashing sign in the sky.

    But, then, perhaps we shouldn't hurry the Almighty. If we did, the lessons we're supposed to learn may not stick well.

    (In case I've sullied my people's reputation by my post, I must make it clear that, just because corruption exists in certain areas of Philippine life, it doesn't mean that we're all bad. We're not. By observation, there are more decent Filipinos than bad; it's just that the bad ones make good media or gossip copy.

    The best assessment I can make is that many of us are tainted, including me, because we have to "roll" with some form of mild corruption in order to survive or protect someone we love or someone decent. But we're not hopeless...

    Okay, if that ramble is totally OOT--my apologies.)

  2. Btw, nice FB avatar. But why did you have your face partly hidden by ROwan?

  3. I don't think making public objections to corruption "sullies" your people's reputation at all. I often complain about our government being corrupt and I don't see it as a disclosure that all people in the US are horrible. I would not apply different rules to you!

    I was not expecting to get my pic taken that day at church, so I partially hid behind the boy, who is always photogenic, LOL!


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