Let’s start with power. Even the word power is rejected by many people as a quality to aspire to because it is often associated with a situation of imbalance such as competitions to determine who is strongest or the weakest, ability to hurt others who disagree with you, abuses inflicted on the vulnerable by those who are placed in relation to them, just for example.
I would propose that power is inherent in every being. From the response to our first cry as an infant, we experience our first cause and effect. People will react and we have feelings associated with that response. We begin the awareness that sometimes we can influence people to get a certain response and sometimes we can’t. Another awareness is that sometimes responses bring us pleasure and sometimes bring us pain. As children, we have limited responses and the ability to influence the adults around us.
My understanding about our power as adults is that we can be agents to influence the impact and response to our life events. The adage “we cannot choose what happens to us but we can choose how we react to these events” suggests we can develop the capacity to turn each event in our lives to our advantage. It’s about learning how to apply our power.
Many who have examined power have found out that it holds many qualities and applications. The way any two people apply power can be a source of conflict. The person who has been taught they are entitled to more power than others may fight furiously if the resolution process assumes equity for all participants.
People who believe the assertion of power is the source of all that is wrong may concede or acquiesce to the will of another rather than assert themselves. I could write a book on Power and the way it is developed, how it is oppressed, how it is abused, how people are empowered – but this is just a conversation starter.
What I want to do in this blog is to ask you, what form of power do you use and under what circumstances? Are you scratching your head at the reference to different types of power?
Well, consider this …
Below are four (4) kinds of power. Each can be used in positive and negative ways to achieve our own ends. Remember my bias is to learn to live in a culture of peace so I will be advocating for choices that match those principles.
Power Within: Understanding and forming the discipline of inner peace. This practice of knowing our own power provides insight into the many choices we have to face each life situation that does not depend on others or external tools.
Power Over: Occurs when one or more people assume a position to take power from others whether a parent over a child who wants to do something harmful or an external agent who has enough power to take away a communitys’ right to resources.
Power With: Is the condition where people collaborate to achieve solutions that meet the interests of those involved and sometimes those affected.
Power To: Is understood as empowering others. Those with more power share the resources and conditions to give power to others. This is experienced today with those who are less able to influence change in their favour due to lack of access to education and/or economic resources.
What power do you experience and/or use that promotes peaceful co-existence and supports achieving what is important to you?
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The next entry to this site will be under my new section called Topics for Discussion on social/cultural conditioning and its effect on resolving conflict, under the About section of this website.