Where Is My Power?

How to protect yourself in the digital age and still be a good global citizen.


If the news doesn’t have you feeling powerless some days, I’d like to know your source. Amidst the raging fear of a nuclear war, we grow weary of the domestic terrorism and the unjust policies of our federal government. Then we read a piece about the victims of the natural disasters and how they are coping without clean water and electricity. I recently heard a term I’d never heard before, “Climate refugee”: apparently New Zealand has set aside some visas for those fleeing neighboring islands.


Meanwhile the poverty gap grows and the disadvantages of being black or brown in this country multiply daily. Add gender identity and expression and we have a social climate reminiscent of a theocracy rather than a democracy—a theocracy where wealth and privilege are gods. What power has created so much unease and social and economic dis-ease? I’ve heard the theories about the powerful elite class that is manipulating all the systems to their benefit. I recently read the book The Four that describes how Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are pretty much running the world. This might lead you to conclude that it is hopeless and that the power resides with the rich and the profit-focused corporation. Not so, friends. The only power they have is power that has been given to them—and we are the ones that gave it to them.


Yes, I said it, you and I. We have allowed excess in our companies, in our elected officials, and in our policies. We have been lulled to sleep with our daily grind and our consuming of products and ideas. I remember very clearly when I read the text of the “Citizens United” proposal. I panicked and I wrote several people who were activist leaders and said: “We really need to do something about this.” To a person no one felt the same sense of urgency. I am still unclear why. The power grab was evident, just like the privacy grab of all the laws passed after 9/11. We’ve been asleep and while we walk around in our sleep we shop.


What I have come to recognize is that my power is in my choices. Every day I create my life by my yes’s and my no’s. Don Miguel Ruiz Jr., Toltec Wisdom teacher, defines our lives as art and we create our own masterpiece with every decision we make. We are constantly making decisions. Some of our decisions are more conscious than others yet in every moment we are choosing.  Where is my attention? What thoughts and feelings am I recycling over and over? What makes me decide to click “buy” on that ad on Facebook or Amazon? What makes me keep my feelings inside and avoid conflict with anyone in my life? How do I minimize my impact on climate disruption? How do I contribute to the greater good?


How I answer these and other questions is the substance of my life. The good news is I can redefine and reconfigure my contribution to the whole by making different decisions. For example: If I stop or at least slow down my accumulation of things, there would be a few less things to throw away and a few less natural resources destroyed to create the things in the first place.   If I choose to eat food that I know has done no harm to the planet and food that actually restores the planet, I can help shape the food supply. If I buy less and give more I can seed prosperity for others to enjoy, even if that prosperity comes in the humble form of water, shelter and food. So today I used my power of choice. Instead of buying another audible book, some fun socks or any other non-necessity, I gave a gift to a school in Kenya and it will clothe 5 students and provide them with fresh water. Instead of taking another luxury vacation (which I often do), I will carve out time and money to go to Puerto Rico and bring water filters.
And just so it’s clear it’s not all about money; I will also be in the same space with a sister of mine whose life and choices I deplore and I won’t complain or shut her out. It’s a choice that contributes to more peace in the world even if just in my family circle. Where is my power? In my choices, every day. As I quiet my mind and let the world fall away for a moment I can discern what is mine to do and so can you.