On one hand, Uncle Ben’s rule makes great sense: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
The essence of the rule is that once you have great power, you need to take the responsibility that goes with it.
And yet, it’s backfiring.
It’s backfiring because so many walk away from their great power. They walk away because they don’t want the responsibility.
We have the power to vote, but decide to stay home and whine.
The power to publish, but click instead.
The power to lead, but follow meekly.
The power to innovate, but ask for rules of thumb instead.
The power to lend a hand, but walk away.
Most people watch videos, they don’t make them. Most people read tweets, they don’t write them. Most people walk away from the chance to lead online and off, in our virtual communities and with the people down the street.
In a democracy, we each have more power to speak up and to connect than we imagine. But most people don’t publish their best work or seek to organize people who care. Most of the time, it’s far easier to avert our eyes or blame the system or the tech or the dominant power structure.
There are millions who insist we’d be better off with a monarchy. The main reason: what happens after that is no longer their responsibility. Go work for the man, it saves you from having to be responsible.
When the local business disappears, it’s because we didn’t shop there. When the local arts program fades away, it’s because we watched Netflix instead. And when the local school persists in churning out barely competent cogs for the industrial system, it’s because we didn’t speak up.
Culture is what we build, and that’s powerful.