Greatness: Resources, Powers, and Good and Evil

Power is not good or evil. Power is a tool.

(Fantasy authors are obligated to devote at least one chapter in their first novel to this topic. Generally it is a discussion between an old, wise man, and a confused young hero.)

The metaphor generally goes something like this:
* A hammer is a useful tool for building things.
* A wicked man can use a hammer to kill another man.

Umm…that’s the gist of it right there. A tool is not good or evil, it’s just a method for Man to express his base nature (whether IT be good or evil). That fact begins with hammers and goes right on up to money and/or magic.

It frustrates me to see people with access to resources that they are unwilling to use, for fear that the resource will somehow taint them. No…that’s not right. What frustrates me is that people can see very powerful resources being put to wicked use (money, political power, social networking), RECOGNIZE the power of those resources, and then (because wicked people are using them) these good people swear off those resources forever.

In other words, we see people using power in bad ways, and so we leave that power entirely in their grasp, and don’t even try to use it in good ways.

There is some kind of social concept floating around, somewhere, about “legitimate” ways to achieve your ends, I guess. Praying for a new bicycle, I know, is strictly against the rules. Buying your way into Congress is, too, even though we know everyone in Congress got there that way.

I dunno. I’m more of a pragmatist than most, I guess. This world is what it is — you’re welcome to despise the unfairness of the systems of power and resources that it runs on, but unless you’re willing to use those (for noble purposes), you’ll always be at a wholly self-imposed disadvantage in your attempts to make things better.