Power and Power Abuse
Many many people have no idea of what true power really is. As a result they spend their lives struggling for something they want, the ability to get things done. To achieve what they want in life. We all require and even deserve power to live successfully. Yet only a relatively small number of people actually claim they have a successful life. We are living in a society embedded in an illusion. This illusional mistake is through no fault of our own.
The issue is that as a society we have a deeply ingrained illusion of what power is. Worse there is adequate truth in the false idea that we fall for the story and despite calls to open our eyes to see the real truth, those calls continue to fall on deaf ears.
We are taught power is the ability to get things done, and this is true. But, it is not the ability to make people do what you want. Force, manipulation, and even what we are lead to believe as hierarchical rights, are aspects of the paradigm of disrespect and coercion that is dominant in our society. This paradigm comes from the reality of fighting for what one wants and getting it. Yet this approach only works to a point and causes incredible harm in its practice. Not all of that harm immediately obvious.
Whether between countries or colleagues in the workplace or friends and families the abuse of power is the use of force to get what one wants. Power is about having the resources to get things done, however when resources are used coercively to achieve one's way it is abuse of power not true power. This includes when others rights and desires are simply not considered and are trodden over because they just don’t matter (not true, they do).
Yes, power is the ability to get things done and it comes from access to resources that enable one to get
things done. However, true power, power grounded in Respect, is being able to use resources to empower constructive outcomes that promote success and thus life.It is the Respectful use of resources to enhance the quality of life for all. It promotes the successfully achievement of personal and professional goals for all, not some.
We all have the foundational right to live the life we desire, to empower ourselves and each other to do so. This is the fundamental idea behind education, and is now acknowledged as fundamental in Australian, and other countries such as the UK, healthcare.
Everyone has the right to live a meaningful and satisfying life.
Education is this building of one's capacity to achieve and succeed in ones life. Unfortunately the idea of it being for the preparation of a successful life has, institutionally, narrowed it focused on the idea of occupational preparation.
While in healthcare the idea of partnership between consumer and expert has taken root but struggles to flourish as individuals struggle to understand and enact their new roles.
The transitions from 1) director, do as I say, to partner, negotiation in best interests, and 2) compliant, what every you say, to partner, identifying, articulating and negotiating for one's personal desires is huge. And I mean huge.
Especially when it is opposition to such a deeply ingrained social paradigm as the abuse of power. We all have learnt about the power of hierarchy and the roles within it related to power abuse. We just didn’t/don’t recognise it as power abuse because it is ‘normal’. It is everywhere in our society.
The abuse of power is currently a pandemic in its own right.
This pandemic is leaving a trail of people struggling to survive and mental health issues, including the suicide pandemic. Considering the biological drive for all living creatures is to survive how is it we have such a high rate of suicide? Something is dreadfully wrong. I argue it is the ingrained paradigm of power abuse, of disrespect, which as a society we can’t and perhaps even don’t want to see.
Power abuse is the misuse of resources in order to get people, to do things. Power abuse is the manager who says, or implies, do it or lose your job. Power abuse is the teacher or educator who favors some students over others, or grades related to their perspective and biases. Power abuse is the expert who says this is the way to live your life. Power abuse is whenever someone says ‘do it because I said’.
As a society we proclaim we do not support power abuse. Yet we continue to live in the paradigm of power abuse, with some of us struggling to make the transition from power abusive situations to true partnerships. Partnerships that are the result of true power. While it is not our fault that we have been ingrained with a normality of power abuse via a socially ingrained paradigm if we turn a blind eye to the reality of it and a deaf ear to the calls for real change we are slipping into the muds of fault by choice.
Are you willing to explore how to take and partake in this transition because you know
Are willing to take those first steps and travel the journey, as best you can? If so you could start by building appropriate skills and letting go of the idea that you need to control others. Or explore what Respect and psychological safety are. It does not matter where you start, that you do does.
Consider reading Psychological Safety by Dan Redecki 2018 or The Four Stages of Psychological Safety by Timonthy Clark 2020 and the Bullied Brain by Jennifer Margaret Fraser 2022