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Power Corrupts August 25, 2014

Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society.
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I really like DarkMatter2525’s new video:

I’ve thought a lot, over the years, about how people respond to power. It was the primary theme of my science fiction novel, which is entitled Power.  In many ways, this book, as well as many things I have written, thought about, etc over my life have been an exploration of how a person might react to any power, whether given or earned.

Would I trust myself to have ultimate power? Would I trust most people with such power? Would I trust anyone with ultimate power?

The simple fact is that nobody should have ultimate power, whether we could trust them or not. The power we have should be limited and given carefully. Our political process, currently, is not especially good as it favors the wealthy and more often than not gives power to people who seek it for their own ends. And while I don’t agree with Plato that “Philosopher Kings” would be the best solution, I think that the seeking of power is indeed part of the problem and perhaps some reluctant leaders might be a step in the right direction.

All the power I want is the power to make my own decisions, affect people positively wherein I have the intimate relationship to do so, and to prevent harm where I can. I don’t want to manipulate, not even if I believed that it was for the good of the manipulated. I’m not arrogant enough to believe that I could tell the difference between my selfish interests and what is actually good for someone else. I don’t want power over people, nor do I want people to have unnecessary power over me. I will grant power where I think it’s fair to do so (a la John Rawls), as I believe we all should.

Our own lives, how we manage our selves, relationships, and projects are the test we are all taking every day. How our society looks is an epiphenomenon of many cultural concepts which cause individual actions and behaviors. In short, our individual decisions add to the whole, and the influence of ideas we spread has some small effect upon the world around us.

Currently, many parts of our society are not doing well on this test. The question is whether you are part of the problem or the solution. My goal is to be part of the solution more than I am part of the problem, knowing that we all will make mistakes and that the good actions of others may make up for my errors, and my good may outweigh their errors.  Together, we can help each other err less, and grow more.

But if on the whole we are doing more good than harm, we should see the steady progress which we humans are capable of.

And those who seek power should, perhaps, be taking the orders sometimes, and not giving them as much. The ability to be louder is not a sign of being a good leader, and perhaps the quiet have things we should be intentionally listening for.

Not that introverts should take over, necessarily.  Only that the noisy should learn to shut up and listen now and then.

Good luck on your test.

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