Power. It is a potent cocktail and can easily go to a person’s head. Love of power makes a person exhibit cruelty, greed and many similar moral weaknesses.
There is a moral face to all of this.
Power in the Individual
The interesting thing about power is that it is often wielded by those who do not deserve to hold any. Absolute control in the hands of one or too few, can corrupt.
It can induce greed, revenge and cruelty in the powerful one. A powerful person with very little real compassion, is rather like an intoxicated drunkard. The potent headiness of so much control can cause the powerful to become reckless, cruel and ruthless. The powerful person thinks his power will last forever. The opposite might be true.
Only a truly great person can willingly share or hand over control and gracefully accept that he has bowed to a greater purpose. Only a moral giant can see that his ego is less important. Less important than the greater good. He prioritizes the needs of powerless individuals over his own need for control and autonomy.
Power and Governance
When we think of power in government or in running a country, the concepts of the Rule of Law, Democracy and the Separation of Powers are key.
These principles should never be embodied in just one person. The reality is that it is the combined machinery of many institutions, run by varieties of people (the “System”) that ensures that everyone will be represented and also, protected.
In a sense, people in power are custodians of the people. They hold a near-sacred duty to manifest the aspirations and needs of the many, while protecting the least. Would this task be difficult and a messy process for these custodians? Indeed, it would be.
But my belief is that humility is the key characteristic necessary for these custodians, these very people capable of representation on behalf of the people.
I addressed Humility in another post. At no point must power be handed over to bullies because bullies use force and oppression to take power away from people. A powerful person must have a healthy tolerance and respect for those who rely on the System.
It is also my belief that the holders of power must respect human dignity. Allowing and respecting another person’s dignity, no matter how different they are in appearance, beliefs, practices, life circumstance and personality, is the hallmark of a good leader and a visionary.
We need to realize that everyone is different. At a molecular level, no two people are alike. We may not empathize with someone who is different from us. But we must tolerate and respect their humanity. To me, personally, these acts are manifestations of love for our fellow human being.
Power in the wrong hands can cause much misery. However, in the right hands of the humble, dignity-respecting caretaker, it can render life hopeful and peaceful.
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