Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Discrete Charm of the Losers

I've been trawling through the back catalogue of the Mensa Magazines, and this article was written in the early 1980s by the President of Mensa Spain, and was translated by Tania Szabo.

It is an interesting thesis, looking at the other side of the coin, against the "lust for power", those who are resigned to not making a mark, who do not seek power, but who confront injustice with dignity. Does it seem fanciful? Would it really show dignity?

Yet Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" shows this can make sense. All of the wise stay away from the one ring, the ring of power, because they know both its corrupting influence, and how much they would wish to use that power. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in Galadriel who is offered the choice, and decides against it

Frodo: If you ask it of me, I will give you the One Ring.

Galadriel: You offer it to me freely? I do not deny that my heart has greatly desired this.

Galadriel: In the place of a Dark Lord you would have a Queen! Not dark but beautiful and terrible as the Morn! Treacherous as the Seas! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth! All shall love me and despair!

Galadriel: I have passed the test. I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.

But it can also be seen in the quiet dignity of ordinary people, such as those downtrodden, surviving on a meagre pension, who don't complain, but just accept their lot, and get on with life, with whatever hand a fickle fate deals to them, and whatever those who rule dictate.

Here, then, is the discrete charm of the losers:

The Discrete Charm of the Losers
by Antonio Casao Ibanez

That power is something immensely tempting proves to be as old as the world. He who succeeds in grasping
it certainly never wishes to lose it and, the fact is, nothing produces as much pleasure as being in command. For want of better, we call it the "lust for power".

So true is this that there are some who think that humanity lost its innocence, more so than with the eating of the forbidden fruit, when men discovered they were able to rule over other men and that this was pleasant.

Fortunately not everyone is obsessed with being in command and there have always been those crazy people who have dedicated themselves to other things, rather than attempting to garrot his fellow human being.

Those good men, veritable tributes to humanity, will never appear in history books unless within the principal pages. For example, it may well be that, in some small niche, they shall be compared to Saint Francis of Assisi or to Doctor Fleming where they will surely have a place of honour in the eternal and collective conscience of mankind. They are thus rewarded for having taken an interest in people rather than ruling over them.

But for me, more admirable still are those men (and women) - defeated in advance - whose nobility ensures they confront the injustices of destiny with dignity. Aware of which, by not participating in the struggle for power, they are cast into perpetual losers - beings who bear the anger or mockery of one and all with patience and with dignity. All things considered, it is they who have prevented this our world from not yet having gone adrift.
I would like to believe that, in spite of everything those losers may win. But how? By obliging us through the moral strength of their example to ensure one day the world they dream of will indeed be a reality for everyone.

So may it be.
Antonia Casao Ibanez, President, Mensa Spain

1 comment:

Nick Palmer said...

Your "power" theme reminds me of someone I used to know who quoted Gore Vidal - "it is not enough that I succeed - others must fail".

Personally, I'm not too interested in the power to make other people do things (or not do things) I want them to, but I am interested in the power to prevent other people doing things to me that I don't want them to.

I think that makes me less corruptible than many.