5 Steps to Transforming a Plutocrat into a New-hero
“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” –Machiavelli
The first thing you’re probably asking, here at the outset, is what is a New-hero? The answer is complicated. I’ve written about the subject in the past, loosely at the end of this article, and more in detail in this article. But basically a new-hero is someone who goes from being a hero with power, to a hero over power; someone who goes from using their power in egotistical-tyrannical ways, to a person who uses their power in ecomoral-compassionate ways. A new-hero is someone who has the ability to turn the tables on the very notion of power itself. It just so happens that the people in the most ideal position to do this are the plutocrats of the world. Just imagine all the Bruce Waynes of the world becoming real life Batmen. Too much for you? Okay then, simply imagine all the Bruce Waynes of the world becoming non-greedy, self-sacrificing, compassionate philanthropists instead of greedy, self-idolizing, unsympathetic wealth-hoarders. Or just imagine they’re all like the fun-loving, simple-living, head-out-of-his-ass President of Uruguay, Jose Mujica.
Some might say that the subject of this article is overly idealistic. Some might say its message is downright crazy. It is this and more. It is audacious and then some, perhaps even insouciant. But, and here’s the rub, the author doesn’t care what the critics might say. It needs to be said. If anybody wants to refute it, write an article and refute it. I’ll be the first to read it. What matters more than people being comfortable with the way things are? Challenging that very comfort with a healthier way of being a human being in this world. To that end, I challenge the plutocrats of the world with the following five ways to become a New-hero.
1.) Recondition Your Status Quo Conditioning
“A hero is not a champion of things become but of things becoming; the dragon to be slain by him is a precisely the monster of the status quo.” –Joseph Campbell
Yo! Plutocrat! Yeah, you with dollar signs for pupils and a clinched fist for a heart. You are a victim. You have been psychologically and morally compromised by the system. You have been spiritually deceived. You have been existentially bamboozled. The system has convinced you that greed is honorable, that profits matter more than people, that ownership trumps relationships, that power matters more than compassion, that material possession matters more than personal integrity, that money is greater than the heart, that equity trumps equality, and that competition is more important than cooperation. This is nothing but machine-reasoning from a machine-state with a machine-heart spewing machine-lies from its machine-mouth. But, like Noam Chomsky said, “States are not moral agents; people are.”
If you would be people, and not machines, extract yourself from the status quo state, and become a human being. Recondition the precondition. Become an agent for humanity instead of an agent for an inhumane state. Transform yourself. Turn the shadows of your past into stepping stones toward a better you. Like Nietzsche said, “The great epochs in our lives are at the points when we gain the courage to rebaptize our badness into the best in us.” I dare you to have such courage. I dare you to look into your own soul and find a deeper meaning than what the status quo has conditioned you into thinking is meaningful. I dare you to think outside the box (or overflowing safe). I dare you to become better than the plutocratic status quo. Like Eliezer Yudkowsky said, “You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in.”
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” –Abraham Lincoln
Plutocrats the world over, I’m putting your character to the test. I’m triple-dog daring you to become a hero over power as opposed to simply a hero with power. I’m challenging you to question the very concept of power. If you question far enough, you will discover that you are doing it wrong, very wrong. True power is not lording your wealth over the poor. True power is using your wealth to liberate the poor. True power is not syphoning wealth from the poor through system-regulated Ponzi schemes. True power is expiating wealth through sustainable means, despite the system. Power tends to corrupt, we all know this. And it will corrupt absolutely if it is not regulated. As it stands, you are the only person who can regulate your own power. You might think your hoarding of power and wealth is well-intended but, Like Malcom Gladwell wrote, “There comes a point where even the best-intentioned application of power and authority begins to backfire.” And it most definitely is backfiring, whether you realize it or not.
You probably imagine that your sense of worth is wrapped up in how much money you can make. It’s not. Your worth has only ever been determined by how healthy you are and how well you treat others. That’s it. That wad-of-money you have for a brain needs to be excommunicated. You want to know why you suffer, and why you are existentially unhappy: because you are chasing numbers. You are chasing power. You’re like a chicken with its head cut off chasing its own tail. And if that doesn’t explain it well enough, heed the wise words of the Buddha, “Attachment is the root of suffering.” You want to get power over power? Let that shit go! Expiate your wealth, lest it destroy your soul. Go from being an unhealthy hoarder to being a healthy provider. And practicing capital munificence is a good way to do exactly that.
3.) Practice Capital Munificence
“The first task is to win something; the second, to banish the feeling that has been won; otherwise it is a burden.” –A.C. Grayling
I dare you to have the courage to transform the ritual of greedy moneymaking into the far superior ritual of moral prestige. The best way to do this is through capital munificence. Paraphrasing myself, imagine that you are the head hunter of a tribe, and that we are your tribe. Imagine you are a prolific hunter with great prowess, skilled in all weapons. There are other hunters, sure, but none with your unique abilities (whether given to you by nature or by nurture, through skill or through luck). Imagine all the hunters go on a great hunt. At the end of this hunt you end up in the 1 percentile of hunters who gets the greatest amount of kills, where the vast majority of hunters (90%) end up with exactly zero kills. Maybe those other hunters were lazy. Maybe they were unskilled. Maybe their weapons weren’t adequate enough. Maybe they were simply unlucky. Maybe it was a combination of all of these. It matters little the reason. What really matters is that they, and their innocent families, will most certainly starve. Unless?
…Unless you, the most skilled of skilled hunters, decides to share his/her meat (wealth) with the rest of the tribe so as to maintain a healthy tribe: this is eco-moral awareness and compassion for others. Of course you would get more of the meat, and the choicest cuts: this is ego-moral awareness and self-compassion. But at least the other people in the tribe (world) wouldn’t starve.
As it stands, the problem with the wealth and inequality divide isn’t a systemic problem. It is a psychosocial problem. It’s a value-system disorder. When acquired wealth occupies a higher position than compassion, when fame is admired more than wisdom, when success becomes more important than love, the culture itself over-values Ego and must be regarded as psychologically and socially unsustainable. Like the old Cree Prophecy said, “When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.” You will probably discover more meaning in eating your money than in hoarding it.
4.) Practice Reverse Dominance
“In a strange !Kung ritual known as “insulting the meat,” when a man hunts and kills an animal, especially a large one, he is expected to act extremely modest and to minimize the importance of his contribution to the tribe. In addition, the other tribe members insult his kill by proclaiming how small and worthless it is.” –Stephanie Segal
“Accountability” Does that word scare you? It shouldn’t. If it does, you are probably doing something wrong or immoral. Accountability is simply social responsibility. Human beings are social creatures. In order to be a healthy human being in this world, you will have to be held accountable by other healthy human beings. With great power comes great responsibility, sure, but the reverse is also the case. The best way to be responsible with your power, and powerful with your responsibility, is to hold yourself accountable, first and foremost. Insult your own meat. There’s no reason you should have to wait for others to do it for you. But until you are capable of insulting your own meat, you can be damn sure others will insult it for you. This entire article is insulting your meat. Deal with it.
If you would be a human being who cares about life, then practicing reverse dominance is a way to maintain humility and a healthy perspective while having more power than you probably should have. Practice it on yourself. Practice it on your fellow plutocrats, like this guy did. Practice it on the entire notion of hierarchy being the best thing for human beings. A huge part of being responsible with your power is implementing leveling mechanisms that keep you humble so that power never gets to the point to where it becomes corrupt. Like Derrick Jensen wrote, “We are the governors as well as the governed. This means that all of us who care about life need to force accountability onto those who do not.”
5.) Discover a Moral Question
“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. So aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.” –Henry David Thoreau
Your belief that you can “reach the top” and “be the best” has caused you to lose sight of what it really means to be the best. It means doing the right thing. We need to return to the ethic of reciprocity: to the Golden mean, the middle-way, and the Golden ratio. Otherwise we’re just boiling ignorantly like frogs in an immoral, unhealthy, unsustainable soup. We need to ask the kinds of questions that the eco-feminist, Starhawk, asked, “How does my spiritual practice and daily life serve the earth? How does my spiritual practice and daily life affect the poorest third of humanity? How will my spiritual practice and daily life affect the generations to come in the future?” In short, we need to personally discover a moral question and then attempt, for the rest of our lives, to answer it.
What does it mean to embrace the Golden Mean and the Middle-way? It means living in a healthy balanced way, while having poise and grace in your relationships with people and nature. It means being healthier: mind, body, and soul. It means practicing moderation by not hoarding more than you need. It means practicing compassion by being kind to your fellow man. There’s a reason why you fail to discover meaning in money: because money is meaningless. It really is that simple. Money is a cartoon in the brain, an abstraction of an abstraction, an invisible hook that your too-big fish-mouth has been “hooked” by. You, and you alone, plutocrat or otherwise, have the power to unhook yourself. I beseech you, you who would be decent, healthy, moral people, don’t place the value of your intrinsic life on extrinsic money. Like Voltaire said, “All paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value, zero.” Better to be a valuable human with zero money, than a zero with money. Money is a tool. It always has been. You can either be a hero responsibly using a powerful tool, or an irresponsible fool being used by a powerful tool. It’s your choice.
You might think that I am being too strict, or holding people to too high of a standard. Again, deal with it. Being a new-hero isn’t supposed to be a walk in the park. It’s not all accolades and prestige. There must be sacrifice. There must be pain. It means staring self-attained power in the face, turning the tables on it, and then walking away with the truer power of humility and wisdom in your heart. It means doing like Harry Potter did at the end of the Deathly Hallows, when he tosses the Elder Wand into nothingness. In that instant he became a new-hero. It means doing as Maximus said he would do in the movie Gladiator, when Senator Gracchus asks him, “And after your glorious coup, what then? You take your five thousand and… leave? And Maximus says, “Yes, I will leave. The soldiers will stay here for your protection, under the guidance of the Senate.” And Gracchus says “So, after Rome’s all yours, you just give it back to the people. Tell me why.” And Maximus says, “Because that was a dying man’s last wish. I will kill Commodus. The fate of Rome, I leave to you.” In that moment he became a new-hero. Only by being responsible with great power can one become a new-hero. I ask you, what will be your defining moment? Do you have the moral fortitude and courage it takes to become a new-hero?
About the Author
Gary ‘Z’ McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
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