Monday, 15 August 2011

“Omnipotent. Oh, you are? I’m Sorry”

In one episode of Friends Ross asks Joey what he would do if he were omnipotent. “Probably kill myself” is Joey’s response, easy misunderstanding to confuse omnipotence with impotence. But I think if I were omnipotent, even though I may not kill myself, I don’t reckon I’d be too happy. Impotence would be a different issue entirely.

So much of life’s pleasure comes from the simple enjoyment of striving for something and getting it. Whether that is having money, a successful career or knitting a blanket for your baby (I started one when son number 2 was a few months old, he is now 2 and I have yet to experience the pleasure of finishing it, but still), I honestly don’t think there would be much pleasure left in life if you could have anything and everything you wanted.

We watched the remake of Arthur the other night (highly recommend if you’re thinking about it) and down on her luck Naomi tries to explain to Arthur the joy of earning success rather than buying it. Arthur has led an incredibly financially privileged life and has never experienced the pride of earning something. He has all the money he could hope for but if it wasn’t for his nanny Hobson, he would have been highly emotionally neglected, and it shows. Money can’t buy happiness, and I’m not sure that power can either.

I recently had a conversation with my friend about what we would do if we won the lottery. We both agreed that winning hundreds of millions of pounds might be fun in the short term but after the initial buzz of buying whatever you wanted wore off what do you do with yourself? What do you do once you’ve given up work, paid off all your (and your families) debts? Wouldn’t life be a bit boring? No, we both agreed, enough to pay off the mortgage, help out friends and family and a bit to charity and we’d we happy.

Aside from having all the money you could dream of, being omnipotent would be far too much responsibility. Having unlimited power to solve all the problems in the world in one fell swoop is quite a hard task if you think about it. Every time I watch the news and wish I wasn’t seeing images of starving children in Africa or wars in the Middle East I wonder, what would I do? I really don’t know. I don’t think I’m clever enough to be omnipotent because I still haven’t come up with an answer. The root cause of all these problems is people, and unless you change people you will never truly change anything. People have the mixed blessing of free will, so they will always do what they want to do despite what I or any other power might do.

The London riots last week have sparked some quite powerful debates about the poverty of some of the people behind them. We are lucky enough to live in one of the most socially mobile nations in the world, if you are unhappy with your lot and are brave and determined you can make that change. Young children are born with the view that anything is possible, and I think it’s sad that most adults grow out of that. Whether or not the cause of the riots was desperation and poverty (yet to be seen in my opinion) no one can deny that some of the most successful people in the Western world came from the most humble or poverty stricken of backgrounds. Just look at Oprah and JK Rowling.

In this country, even if you have the most basic of your needs met you already are omnipotent to an extent. If you’re poor you have the power to make money, if you’re fat you have the power to be thin, if you’re sick many of us are lucky enough to have access to healthcare to get well. What more do we want?

What would you do if you were omnipotent? Would you want to be?

1 comment:

  1. Well, I don't believe that I'm clever enought to be omnipotent either... I wouldn't have been able to spell it had I not copied it from your heading!

    But I do believe that the only thing between anyone and changing their lives - losing weight, making money, running a business - is their own attitude and mindset.
    Look at me, 'Jobless, alone and on benefits...' to business woman extraordinare! Lol. Okay, a slight exaggeration but who cares bird, look how thin we are!

    Not the most intellectual of comments I'm afraid, but I don't want to get started on the rioting side of things at this time of night, as I won't be able to stop!

    Loving your blog honey, so insightful, and always makes me smile! x