It starts with five simple words:


And then it comes. The music builds. Lightning from the sky strikes the man with the upraised sword. Does it hurt him? Just listen to what he says next:


You remember. Electric bolts of pure energy crackle around his muscled body. Hands that can punch through solid steel grip the sword that transformed the bumbling prince into the most powerful man in the universe. You remember the way it felt to grab hold of a plastic sword or a stick or even empty air and say those same words: I have the power.

We all want the power. But the world seems to be short on magic swords these days. Believe me, I've checked. (You think I'd be writing this if I had a magic sword? No way. I'd be out battling shadow beasts and seven-headed monsters, saving nubile red-haired maidens from guys with skulls for faces.)

So what do we do? Well, I suppose you can grow a mustache and build weapons devices and adopt an orphan who grows up to be captain of the guards. But let's face it. Not everyone can grow mustaches. And even if you can, do you really want to? Basically the only people who can have mustaches without looking silly are those who've always had mustaches. (Having a mustache attached to a beard doesn't count, by the way. It's still just a beard. That's a whole other story.) It's something set from the time of adolescence, something you have to choose. Either you're a mustache guy or you're not. Once you've decided, it's locked in. (It works both ways, too. Suddenly you shave off your mustache and bam! You've got a lip coming from nowhere. Scary.)

Okay. You don't have a magic sword, or a mustache, or skill with weapons or space technology in a barbarian sorcery world. You can't be He-Man or Man-At-Arms. I'll assume that, like me, if you can't do any of the above, you also cannot fly, ram into buildings with your head, or transform into a mystical falcon. Is this reason to despair? Will your life be meaningless from now on?

The answer to all of these questions is: NO! You can have the power without the magic sword. No, I don't mean you'll be able to pick up Castle Grayskull and throw it into the air using your bulging muscles. I'm talking about the real power that He-Man wields. His morality.

Fast forward to the end of the show. The battle with Skeletor was fought and won. Old skullface runs off, shaking his hands in the air, vowing eternal revenge. Like we're scared. Next time we'll just beat him again. No matter who he brings along! (By the way, who has a skull instead of a face? How can he even see without eyeballs?) After all that the show should be over, right?

Wrong! Now comes the most important part. The moral.

You've heard the expression, "the moral of the story." No doubt your 11th grade English teacher had you combing all the pages from "Call me Ishmael" to "Finis" so you could explain, in your own words, just what Moby Dick really meant. He-Man would never lead you on such a pointless chase. At the end of every single episode, He-Man (or one of his faithful and heroic friends) tells you plainly and simply what you should know about how to live a good and happy life. That knowledge, my friends, is real power. With it you can master the universe. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Keep Cool, Baby

One time Evil-Lyn kidnapped the daughter of a powerful sorcerer and showed the sorcerer a forged video that showed He-Man and Man-At-Arms doing the kidnapping. This made the sorcerer so mad he incarcerated He-Man, just as Evil-Lyn planned; The sorcerer wouldn’t listen to reason because he was so angry.

Kor, the sorcerer, was ordinarily a good guy. He didn’t spend his time hatching plans that would drain the life essences out of people so he could use that essence to destroy stuff. (Like Bone Dome does). But his daughter was kidnapped. He was scared. Kor saw footage showing He-Man taking his daugher. So he reacted.

Quick reactions can save lives. Back when us humans lived close to tigers and snakes quick reactions allowed us to survive and multiply. Nowadays those kinds of situations are pretty uncommon. Sure, a tiger might get you – but usually Beast-Man is behind it.

For situations like that, it pays to think things through.

Suppose you determine Beast-Man is controlling the tiger. Aha – now you have a way to get the tiger off your back: distract Beast-Man. How do you do that? Perhaps you could make him think Skeletor was coming to berate him. Poor Beast-Man. Nothing he does is ever good enough. He’s got a real inferiority complex because of Skeletor’s nitpicking. You can exploit that.

Better yet, you could make him think Skeletor was happy with him. Wouldn’t that knock him down! He’d be so flabbergasted and happy he’d lose all interest in that man-eating tiger. You’d be safe. And maybe you’d have given Beast-Man a little taste of what it's like to have positive self-esteem. Who knows where that could lead to? Perhaps he might escape the tendrils of old bony face once and for all?

Many options become available if we stop to think instead of just reacting.

Kor was so upset he couldn’t think straight. Sure, he saw doctored footage of He-Man and Man-At-Arms stealing his daughter. But they told Kor it was Evil-Lyn and they gave him a good argument for him to at least consider that they may be telling the truth: Evil-Lyn is usually causing trouble; He-Man and Man-At-Arms are usually cleaning up trouble.

But he wouldn’t listen. His mind was too clouded by anger. Disaster almost occurred – the Crismson Scourge got loose and would have burned the world if not for He-Man. (And by the way, did He-Man just pound the Scourge into submission? No. He took the time to think of a better solution: tapping underground water and damping the Crimson Scourge into submission.)

There are times when lightning reactions can do us good. But most of the time it pays to stop and think.

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