Myth, Power and Wealth

Myth, power and wealth all go together. If you possess one, you enhance the other two. Myth has a lot to do with human perception and imagination based on the level of wealth and fame. Myth thrives on ignorance, too. Before the dawn of science, thunder and lightning appeared to show that the gods were angry. When ignorance cannot explain something, human imagination will fill in the void.

In ancient times, kings and emperors proclaimed themselves descendants of heaven and people believed it. In so doing, the people also believed in heavenly mandates bestowed upon their rulers, thereby enhancing their authority and power.

In modern days, although heavenly mandate has lost its appeal, we still have plenty of myths to believe in and marvel at. Among them are religious myths, personality cults, stardom, famous names, business tycoons, big companies, elite professions, exceptional skills, and so on. Once you have achieved fame and wealth, other people will look at you differently, marvel at your success, and imagine that you have extraordinary power.

It is true that successful people are extraordinary. It is also true that we tend to magnify their strong points while ignore their weak spots. Due to public adoration, successful people like to convince themselves that they have extraordinary powers to the extent that they are invincible. Little do they know that their weaknesses may cause their downfalls someday.

Let me illustrate some of the biggest myth-shattering events:

People had believed that the earth was flat for so long until only 500 years ago when modern astronomy proved them wrong. Weak spot: ignorance.

Communism was thought of as a viable choice for human society until the Soviet Union imploded and China switched to a capitalistic economy. Weak spots: no material incentives for progress, government corruption, and power abuse by the communist party.

Capitalism seemed to have triumphed over communism until the financial meltdown of 2008 and the great recession that followed. Weak spots: greed on the part of big business, insufficient regulation and oversight, government corruption allowing big business to lobby with their money.

Small countries are able to bring a superpower to its knees with wits and determination. Examples: The Soviet Union was bogged down in Afghanistan for a long time. The United States suffered heavy losses in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Weak spots: ignorance of local conditions, too much reliance on weapons, blind-sighted by the view that they were invincible.

The Internet and the digital age have ruined the business of many famous companies such as Eastman Kodak (photographic films), Smith Corona (typewriter), and Encyclopedia Britannica (publishing). Weak spot: unable to adjust to fast-changing technology.

In conclusion, a weak spot may turn out to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Weak spots never feature in myths where people only imagine about strengths and extraordinary powers while ignoring weaknesses. If you want to find a myth-shattering event, look for the weak spots of the actor to show their devastating effects.

March 2012

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