Power & Privilege

Yes, our miserable world is overrun with meaningless awards and empty accolades.

It used to be you could get either a Pulitzer or a Purple Heart and that was about the full extent of it, but now if you are an ambitious person with a global “brand,” you have to leave enough space on your shelf to separate your Emmys from your Grammys from all your Nobel Prizes.

And with each of these prizes, there is a requisite amount of gratitude one is expected to express publicly.

That has proven to be a boon for the Acceptance Speech Writers of America (ASWOA), whose members specialize in crafting all manner of short, humble statements that are designed to publicly recognize the inescapable fact that no one does anything of consequence without help.

I’m a member of ASWOA, and I admit I’ve never scored a large-scale acceptance speech, even though I’ve studied and practiced the various forms.

For example, we know that Oscar acceptance speeches are famously long-winded, thanks-wise. Enough said (except that enough is never said in one of these).

One of the best things about that MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant is that you don’t know you’re in the running until you get it, so your reaction is pretty much pre-written.

“This came totally out of the blue and I can’t believe I was even up for it. I’m stunned speechless. Love you mom!”

The shout-out to mom is important because there’s hardly anyone else to thank. It’s so much about YOU.

But the one global prize the members of ASWOA absolutely detest is the Forbes Most Powerful Person Prize, which went to Russian President Vladimir Putin this year for the second year in a row.

Why no love for this mighty sounding accolade?

Because winners of the FMPPP rarely give an acceptance speech of any kind. To understand why, all you have to do is take a look at the draft I wrote for Putin last year:

“Me getting this means the world finally recognizes what I’ve known for a long time. I’m awesome! So to pretend I’m grateful would be counter-productive.
After all, you can only be the Most Powerful Person if every other person is weaker, right? How can I thank anyone for that? Does a mountain thank the prairie for being flat? I don’t think so. For me to credit anyone for my greatness would make me less than them, thus disqualifying me for the award I just received.
Catch-22!
So there’s no way I can accept this award, because I already had it long before you realized I am the winner! And only by being a complete jerk about it can I clearly indicate to you that I totally deserve to be The Most Powerful Person in the World, and that with the announcement of this award I am simultaneously delighted and completely and thoroughly bored out of my mind.”

Not only did Putin not give this wonderful acceptance  speech I wrote for him, he wrote back and told me I was a worthless little worm who was destined to do his bidding, or die trying.

Of course I took that in the way it was intended – as the highest possible compliment.

Who is the most powerful person in your world?

38 thoughts on “Power & Privilege”

  1. Eek! Shirtless Putin before coffee!

    This after being jolted awake by the all-powerful orange tabby sending a stack of books crashing with a single bound.

    It’s going to be an interesting day.

    I have to get some coffee so I can think of something.

    Otherwise I will have to admit the most powerful person in my life is a teenage orange tabby.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good morning. I am afraid I am a little like Putin. I don’t see anyone as having power over me. On the other hand, I am not at all like Putin because I don’t want to be powerful. Of course, I can not be sure how I am seen by other people. I might have some tendencies to seek power that I am not willing to admit. There certainly are some people who are interested in wielding power. The Koch brothers come to mind as a leading example.

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  3. Being the parent of a minor child, i gotta go with Darling Daughter. While there is power I wield over her, there is a heck of a lot of my world that is dictated by her schedule and her needs. Thankfully, she is a benign dictator (and probably doesn’t realize how much influence she actually wields – yes, dear, I was not home last night to put you to bed because I was at the opera, but there are countless other events I don’t attend because you need to get to piano or circus or just because keeping up with you makes me tired). As any parent knows, there is a fair amount of sacrifice and shaping your world around shepherding this kid to a hopefully happy and productive adulthood – whether that sacrifice is forgoing a new winter coat for yourself because Child has outgrown their coat and needs a new one themselves, lack of sleep because Child had a nightmare and wants you to sit with them while they fall back to sleep, or giving up what would otherwise be your “free time” to help Child with homework or read them a book – thus delaying your time to writing The Great American Novel. Good thing she is a benign dictator and a darn good kid…

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      1. Yep, pretty much. The rewards sometimes show up in unexpected places and times, too (and sort of endearing that some of my nerdiest qualities are the ones she seems most proud to share with her buddies as a sign that I am awesome in her eyes).

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Morning all. Sorry, but I have to go the child route as well. Nobody can affect my mood and outlook like the Teenager can. It’s been pretty pleasant at our house for a couple of weeks… I’m on edge waiting for the other shoe to drop!

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    1. hang onto the moment. i always remember the year i reviewed last years christmas card and wanted to know if son had been a jerk last year too and discovered that in last years christmas card i was the parent who could do no wrong. once the corner is turned you cant remember the past. the present is shouting too loud. ( i am ok in his eyes again…. sort of)

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  5. I’m with Jim on this one. I don’t really perceive anyone as having power over me, at least not overtly. Of course, if you’re in relationship with another person, you make compromises. That’s just part of the deal.

    Hans doesn’t like certain foods, so I don’t serve those when he’s at home. I’ll admit there are times when it irritates me and I feel resentful about it, but then I remind myself how much worse it could be. The list of things he won’t eat is short, unfortunately it includes some of my favorite foods.

    After 35 years of marriage we’ve learned to pick our battles – I think!

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    1. my wife fixes stuff for the kids ,. never has for me. i will occasionally fix stuff for her but grazing at 5-9 is more the mealtime agenda than sitting down to a meal. i really like my cooking . she eats it and doesnt complain but i dont think she is near as big a fan as i am

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      1. You’re right, of course, Clyde. The little guy can get me to do things, but it is all so fun I don’t see it as a power thing.

        Molly hasn’t been formally offered the job. She is giving this a lot of thought. The new offer will be very good, if it comes, and yet she puts a high value on fidelity. Leaving a company that has been so good to her is not a natural thing for her. I can’t guess how this will play out, but you have to feel good that she is being recognized for her talent and values.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Indeed. Loyalty and trust are good old-fashioned vales. The question of course is what fidelity does her company feel towards her? In the long run, no business of any size is about fidelity any more.

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        2. The company she works for now is cited every year as one of the best firms in Oregon to work for. They have been enthusiastic supporters of her and have made her feel great about her work for them. It interests me that she just had a job review at her present company. She didn’t mention the possible offer because she feels it would be unethical to pressure her employer like that. This enrages Molly’s mother, my erstwife, who would use any possible advantage to leverage a better salary. I’m proud of my daughter. She is ethical not only when it is easy to be but when she could profit by going another way.

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  6. I am sure Husband had a certain degree of power in some ways, as PJ mentioned, though not necessarily intentionally. I am easily affected by the mood of others, and so if he gets a bit moody, it can be a downer until I become aware and go my own way.

    The other powerful entity in my life isn’t a person, but aging – if it’s not plantar fasciitis, it’s a pulled muscle somewhere (left shoulder lately) that makes something difficult to do. Uffda, Art LInklater was right… “Old Age is Not for Sissies.”

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    1. I don’t think we all necessarily get the same ads. One of the sort of spooky things about Internet advertising is that they show different things to different people for shadowy reasons.

      I’m not seeing any guy. Can you take a screen shot when you see him?

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        1. On a Mac, you press command-shift-4 and select the area you want to take a picture of. On Windows, I’m not sos ure. I think if you have a “Print Screen” key on your keyboard, that will do it. There are probably other ways as well.

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  7. The power is shared by two little people – yup, you guessed it, my twin grandsons. Since they are 15 months old and very active and healthy, I’ll leave it to your imaginations to guess how they control the people around them. Some ways are more pleasant than others. One of them is better at the pleasant methods of control and the other is really good at the not-so-pleasant methods and pretty good at the pleasant methods, too.

    Runners up: the dog and the cat.

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      1. BiR, I wish I could say that I’ve been on some trip to an exotic place, or at least a place that didn’t have internet. I’ve been busy, but mostly it’s just very low energy (mostly low mental energy, physically it’s been okay). I think I’m still recovering from a year-plus with twins. Or something.

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  8. Ok, yeah, yeah, yeah-the s&h runs my life. I’m really working at getting him to take on some of the running of his own life. With that comes relenquishing some control-given the extreme level of control I remember at that age, I’m finding that reasonably easy-especially when it buys me a little freedom.

    Orange tabby is still the setter of my alarm clock though…… also dictates some housekeeping requirements.

    Captain Fluffy-tail (the grey long hair) is all about the love. She just wants me tk be a lap-much easier.

    Facebook baboons will know the driver’s permit was acquired this morning. I got a little dizzy when he asked if he should check the “organ donor”. Easy to answer, hard to think about.

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  9. my dad used to say kids are like ancakes . the first tow are just for practice. my last tow sure got a different upbringing than the first two. all the stupid stuff goes away and is treplaced by updated stupid stuff that goes in an easier direction. my older tow are messed up in a way that is traceable to the way i raised them the last tow are messed up in the way i didnt raise them. its nice to have variation in this life.

    i am the most powerf ul person in my life. if my guard gets let down and i start letting others get to me it is depressing and exhausting sometimes. i deterine when to let them in and it is always when the positve vibes are flowing and too often when the ugly side rears its head too. a little song a little dance an little seltzer down the pants. thats my motto

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