Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Opinion: Power Over, Power Within, Power With

As a social worker I come across quite a number of people who have been harmed by society, by others or by themselves. More and more I am pondering why our society and the people within it experience this harm and live in a mentality where life is deficient. Life is deficient and therefore we need to go to things outside ourselves in order to feel safe or some semblance of wholeness. For some people this may be Governments, Organized Religion, Philosophical Dogmas for still others it may be relationships, sex, self-harm, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, over or under eating, or consumption of consumer goods.

What I have to the conclusion of as to the reasons why we as individuals and a society go to these things is due to how we are socialize to deal with power. From a young age many of us are taught to respect or fear authoritarian power (also known as power-over). This usually starts with a parent (often father) whom we are taught that their way is law, though some of this is needed when it comes to say not running into traffic or putting their hands on a hot stove, this is generally taken further then that. Then as we grow we come to learn to look to the teacher, police officer, professional, or the government as what to follow and go to.

Answers are provided for us from outside ourselves and we are taught that authoritarian power and hierarchies are what to follow. It is the rare parent or society that teaches children about the concept of working as equals (power-with) or to develop their own inner power (power-within). It is this concept of working with power from a place of power-over that people look for things outside themselves to try to quell the internal. We try to have power-over our lives and feel that it is a personal failing when tragedy befalls us, and society reinforces that belief.

In reality power-over always failures to deliver whether in authoritarian regimes or, personal addictions. Every empire throughout history has eventually fallen as people gain courage and fight back or new empires pave the way. We as a society need to rethink how we look at power. Instead we should nurture society to be one that respects and draws strength from its own power-within and recognize that working with others as equals provides diversity, strength, creativity and, fulfilment for the members of that group.

Every person who lays down using power-over, nurtures their own power-within and, then shares that with others as equals is heroic.

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4 Comments:

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7:59 AM  
Blogger Stefanie Redfield said...

Wow. This really spoke to me.

I'm a multiple, and for me, multiplicity is a source of power-within.

I highly agree that a certain amount of power-over is necessary in training young.....as evidenced in nature, if one watches mammals train their babies. But I've never seen mammals overdo it the way people do.

I thought this was all very well put.

6:16 PM  
Blogger DREAMLINK said...

Thank you for that essay. That was very nicely put.

I agree that as a society we do not honor power-within as we do power-over. In many ways the governments, organized religions, etc. want to keep this dysfunctional relationship going because if they don't they lose their power over the people. I have found it very hard to break away from this mentality and find true freedom.

9:12 PM  
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6:49 AM  

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