POWER

ZOOMER Magazine - - REINVENTION - By Brian D. John­son

POWERUSEDTOBESOSIMPLE. When I was a child in the 1950s, it was syn­ony­mous with di­vine progress, from the soft-touch power steer­ing and power brakes on a V8 Im­pala to The Power of Pos­i­tive Think­ing – the best­seller that, along with How to Win Friends and In­flu­ence Peo­ple, pi­o­neered mind con­trol as a tool for world dom­i­na­tion. The orig­i­nal self-help books. By the ’60s, the power of tech­nol­ogy was full of in­fi­nite prom­ise. Sure, we were the first gen­er­a­tion to con­tem­plate our nu­clear an­ni­hi­la­tion. But a su­per­hero would save us, a Kennedy who seemed in­vin­ci­ble un­til he wasn’t.

Our own sense of power came eas­ily. In the ’60s, we con­vinced our­selves that we could change the world. Power was some­thing to be seized and cel­e­brated – Flower Power, Stu­dent Power, Black Power, Power to the Peo­ple. Power was a pos­i­tive vibe, mo­bi­lized by rock ’n’ roll and mag­ni­fied by a pur­ple mi­crodot of LSD that con­nected all the dots and made ev­ery mol­e­cule look good enough to eat. Steve Jobs swore by the stuff. LSD, he said, “re­in­forced my sense of what was im­por­tant – cre­at­ing great things in­stead of mak­ing money.” That from the man who cre­ated the world’s first tril­lion­dol­lar com­pany.

Now we have the con­nec­tive “power” of so­cial me­dia, at­om­ized into obliv­ion as we swipe left and right. Power is by na­ture po­lit­i­cal and in­evitably cor­rupts. But it has never looked uglier, thanks to the White House Mi­das who turns his name to gold and the world to shit. Power is so ugly these days one hes­i­tates to use the word with­out a fil­ter. We talk of women and mi­nori­ties be­ing “em­pow­ered,” as if pas­sively en­dowed. We apol­o­gize for the power of our words with trig­ger warn­ings. Mean­while, we mar­vel at Mar­vel su­per­heroes, munch power bars, take power naps and seek the power of self-im­prove­ment from the Goop galaxy of unguents and ax­ioms.

We may no longer be­lieve we have the power to change the world. But at this point, I’d set­tle for sav­ing it with a some or­ganic snake oil.

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