Is it power that corrupts or a lack of responsibility?
You may have heard the quote:
‘Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you super add the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.’ John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton.
This quote never sat easily with me. Does it then imply that as a person’s power increases, their moral sense diminishes?
When I observe my own life and experiences and look at our national and world leaders, be they religious, political, business, financial, health or educational fields: any power authority, the evidence sustains this belief. However, is it perhaps time to redefine our understanding of power.
We have all experienced autocratic power from the authorities, a system that controls the individual by forcing us to comply. It is a system or entity that is supported by the rules or laws of the organisation or state (to take a case against the state is normally only won due to a technicality not because of right or wrong). Hence we are taught to believe that power is oppressive and controlling. This so called power comes from getting the citizens or public to comply and comes from a place that doesn’t empower the individual.
My understanding of true power is my ability to take responsibility for how I feel and my reactions to what life brings to my door. I then became my own authority regardless of systems and authorities. This does not mean that I ignore the rules in place, but rather I can abide the rules but remain sovereign in my self.
When I am in control of my life I am responsible for my life. When I am not in control of my life I can blame someone else and focus on their behaviour and trying to change that.
By controlling others my power is determined by how well I can manipulate others whereas when I am in control I determine how I feel. I believe that our present definition of power is based on manipulating and controlling everyone around us.
Are we living in a society that is geared towards keeping us powerless?
When we are being controlled we are carrying the burden of the oppressor.