One skill that I’ve exhibited for most of my life is the opposite of functional fixedness, an adaptability of thought that allows me to look at items or ideas in one realm and repurpose them into something different, better, or unexpected in a different area. Whether in martial arts (hmmm, this block could be a strike, or then lead to a grab setting up that technique…) or physics (so if we try to maximize throughput of this to transfer the maximum energy within the constraints…), or just channeling Johnny from Airplane! (I can make a hat, or a broach, or a pterodactyl…), this ability to re-interpret something leads to expansive applications and new insights that unlock opportunities.
Having some capacity with a few languages (and understanding the origin of stories and documents) combined with multilingual friends has given additional insight. As Charlemagne the Great observed fourteen hundred years ago: to have another language is to possess a second soul. This second (or third, or fifth) insight lets us look at the source documents and interpret them very differently than the standard messaging that has been calcified in place over centuries.
There are many quotes from the great texts (The Bible (both Old and New Testaments) and the Quran, The Tao te Ching, The Vedas and The Eddas, and too many to name) that are generally accepted to mean one thing but when read in the original language and in a different context than 21st Century America (and the years and authorities that built the mores and moral frameworks for today) carry a very different message than what we are taught in school. This is a theme we will explore repeatedly in the future, one quote at a time.
“Empowered are the Disciplined; for they will take over the world.”
No, it is not from The Art of War by Sun Tzu. It is from The Book of Mathew in the New Testament of the Bible. The ensconced translation is “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Quite a different set of directions for how to see the world and live between the original Greek and the English most of us are familiar with and look to for guidance.
Many people interpret this verse as an admonition against pride, a reminder of patience, a missive for passiveness and allowing Higher Powers (be they immortal or the political authority of the time) to look out for you and you better accept meekly your lot in life and what they dole out to you. In a world of birthright nobility controlling essentially all means of production, or political and economic oligarchies masquerading as enlightened leaders and benefactors the “be humble, accept your lot, and wait for what remains” message sounds a lot more like propaganda to keep entrenched power systems in place and maintain the status quo than a guidance on how to find salvation.
But to be empowered? Those are the people have the capability of creating new things, of building empires and making decisions based upon free will (with all of its positive and negative consequences). They are not gifted anything, nor do they have to wait for others to take their turn or use up the resources or decide that they are worthy. The Constitution proclaims “endowed by their Creator”, and the inalienable rights given us by our Founding Documents (Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Amendments) are based upon much older concepts that were codified roughly two and a half centuries ago by a group that had just seized their liberty and destiny instead of waiting for an external power to grant it out their magnificence. Looking externally for a boon is the exact opposite of what the original Scripture said, but over time the message has been twisted to serve those with power. Think about that lesson.
“The Disciplined”. Those who show restraint. Those who can cause harm but don’t. Those with strength and wisdom to temper it. Those who wield power but do not do so frivolously. Those who have sacrificed to bring forth their potential for the betterment of themselves and those around them. Warriors with a code, direction, and self-control. These are not grovelers nor those that kowtow when told by a foreign influence but those who can achieve things, that have power in themselves and use it when appropriate but do not show off nor take from others what is not rightfully theirs. Respectful yes, but not subservient.
“Given the world” does not mean handed ease on a silver platter. It means the doors of opportunity are opened for us to march through and shape our future based upon our choices. It means the limitless possibilities are presented before us and we will make of it what we will. It is the fertile ground that we must till to bring forth fruit, the space on which to build factories and workshops and castles and dreams, but through our efforts not through magic or manipulation. It is through honest hard work, the sweat of the brow and the hand of the crafter that has honed their skill over time.
If you take over an office or store, you have to go and open the door and go to work. If you inherit the family business, you can’t just sit on a beach collecting checks; you have to fulfil your obligations. If you are given a contract (record deal, writing gig, order from your factory or bakery or what have you) the rewards come after fulfilling it, and when you fulfil the promise of your disciplined thoughts and actions you earn and achieve the results, the paradise on earth promised. While others wait for the handouts.
Do not wait. Do not be meek and expect the government or your rich relative or your significant other or your religious organization to take care of you. Take care of yourself. Take care of your business. Take the actions to make yourself stronger (physically, emotionally, and financially), more flexible (reduce dependency on single sources, understand the concepts underlying what you do, adaptable to different economies and environments), more focused (ignore the gossip and scandals and distractions). Take control of yourself, and take control of your present and future.
Then you can leave what’s left to the meek.