She said “You are dangerous! This man is dangerous!” I could see the terror in her eyes. She was afraid of me. She wasn’t kidding. She was a participant in one of the Digital Acceleration Master Classes I used to facilitate when I worked at Hyper Island, and something I had said had frightened her. I didn’t know exactly what it was that I had said that had upset her so much. My guess is that it was in the way I was advocating for more openness and transparency. Never before had I experienced someone reacting this way. In her eyes I saw myself reflected as a dangerous monster—not a pleasant sight for someone who is used to seeing a friendly, warm and gentle man in the mirror. Someone with his heart in the right place. It had not occurred to me that anyone could perceive me as being dangerous. And it has taken me nearly four years to come around to this idea and I’m still only beginning to see how it fits with my worldview and sense of self. that’s why this issue is a bit longer and more open ended than usual.
The way I see it currently is that there are two fundamental choices. The first choice is if you intend to do good or evil. The second choice is how much power you seek to have. Becoming powerful, however, is not an instant choice. You have to keep at it consistently over time. Every day you can choose to try to become more powerful or less powerful. Once you become powerful it seems to stick. Once you learn to shoot a gun, to yield a sword, to speak persuasively or to hack into a secret database, your skills won’t just go away. The trouble is that your first choice is less stable. Today you might intend to be good. But what happens if someone harms you or your family? Can you be sure that you won’t suddenly decide to use your accumulated power to seek revenge? You can’t be competent without also being dangerous. But with such capacity for evil, might it be better to avoid power and remain harmless? I don’t think so, yet I wonder if there is an upper limit on how powerful one should become.
What do you think? Are you willing to be dangerous?
With much love