Power. Let the word escape from your mouth and pervade the air for a moment. Say it to yourself a few times aloud. Don’t worry if someone is looking, just say it under your breath. Pay attention as you push air out quickly from your lips (PA). Notice how your mouth contracts to form a circle (OW). End this exercise, as you feel your lips push out forcefully from your face, ending abruptly (er). Again, notice how you emphasize the first syllable (POW), paving the way for the rest of the word (er).
POWer. The onomatopoeia of the word calls to mind Batman punching the Joker in old 1960s comics. Much like Batman, the temperate woman fears POWer. One watches their superiors who hold power, while dreading the day when one loses it. Fuck it. The proper way to communicate that statement is that I dread the day that I loose power. Yet the wise person also guards against their own grasp and use of power. Power forces its way through individuals. It is a cultural force which sustains itself through government, relationships, society, and all aspect of the human life. It is also a selfish force, transmitted most easily through governments, ideas, and weapons. No amount of free will can remove its influence from our lives. Once one drinks from its sweetened well, one’s thirst increases. Power never sits undisturbed. Whether the tides grow in strength or wane in meek withdrawal, it is still there, always seeking to be let out. Strangely, the only way to curb power in one area is also through power from a different source. The paradoxical nature creates an internal struggle with power, while also causing an eternal struggle in man’s relationship with power.
If absolute power corrupts absolutely, what level of power can a person/society have which successfully abates corrupt power while maintaining moral acceptance?
The powerful never holds the full trust of his peers or society. Like a stick of dynamite, one handles it with care and concern, even if the fuse is never lit. Left in careless hands, the minor mistake conducts a spark, and the stick quickly engulfs everything in its blast radius. The man who has dynamite to blow the obstacle in front of him, but doesn’t use it, is a rare specimen.
Even less trustworthy is the man who is always seeking power. First, he seeks it so that he might help others (PA). Then his lust grows so that he might always protect those he fought and helped (OW). Yet the threats to his family, or to his friends, or to the mob of strangers, become the only things keeping him in power. Eventually, the benevolent dictator becomes the abusive tyrant, seeing threats behind every corner, which justify his continued absorption of more power (er).
Yet power in itself is not evil or inhumane or immoral. The powerless are the most downtrodden, oppressed peoples. This recognition is why so many seek to (em)POWer the individual, if only enough to control her own fate. It is also not an oxymoron to suppose that different powers can cooperate, though this is a delicate task. It is with power as it is in nature; relatively few instances of mutualism appear when contrasted with parasitism. History shows that this is not impossible. With buttons hovering over nukes, the powers of the world stayed their hands (though not without several temptations, threats, and close calls). We, as a species, have created an international code of inalienable human rights, even if it these aren’t always protected around the world.
I retain optimism about the species, and about POWer. Among the discontent in the world, in the midst of the horrible news and imperial decrees (er, sorry, ‘executive orders’), I see a new, emboldened, engaged group. But I am hesitant of the growth of this newfound power from the crowd. As Kierkegaard noted, ‘the crowd is untruth.’ Let not this new power make you stray from your principles. Be wary, and reflect on why you believe what you do. Do not let antipathy to old dogmas create new ones.
More than anything, I hope that human decency prevails. The corruption of POWer lies in use, not in trust. Power shall be trusted not to one man or a group of men but to all men. With the pretension of someone who studies philosophy, I leave you a famous quote from a famous philosopher.
Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster…for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.