Who Has Power?

In our society, it is the people who have power who manage to get things done. The type of power — financial, political, or even brute force — might change, but the use of it to accomplish goals does not.

We see examples of influence all around us. A business leader may use connections they have to make deals. Or someone who holds political office may use their position to enact legislation. Yet another example is a popular person exercising their social connections.

That power might be used for personal gain, or it might be used for societal gain. How it is used may be determined by the character of the person with the advantage. Conversely, there might be social or legislative checks on that power.

There is also a certain influence that comes from collaboration. One person may not be able to do much in isolation, but if that person can recruit a hundred others to help them, their reach can expand drastically.

Do you see power being used around you? How? Who has it? Is one kind more effective than another?

Related questions: Where does authority come from? Individual or society? What makes a good leader? How much power does an individual have?

1 thought on “Who Has Power?”

  1. Some thoughts:
    – Many Americans don’t like to acknowledge power. They think it an ugly word/concept. But power simply means to be capable of accomplishing something.
    – Like to acknowledge it or not, we all have power. The questions are will we use it, to what ends, and how?
    – As the saying goes, “You are either at the table, or you are on the menu.”
    – Is power being used to set the terms of the debate? Are you using your power to influence outcomes — are you at the table? Or are you leaving things up to other people whose interests are different than yours — are you on the menu?
    – Do you use your power to bring out the best in yourself and those around you? For instance, have you heaped praise on someone who has used their power to impact change (e.g. helped someone in need, called attention to a wrong that must be made right, positively influenced a decision-maker by writing them a letter based on your experience)? This may encourage that person to take similar actions in the future.
    – Ask yourself, “What can I do to use my power to accomplish good?” Could you:
    – Speak up at a neighborhood meeting about the need for more affordable housing in your community?
    – Challenge someone close to you for saying or doing racist things?
    – Decide to eat less meat in order to reduce your resource demands on the environment? (Don’t worry. If you eat less meat, people WILL ask you why. You can use this experience as a teachable moment.)
    – Join forces with like-minded people so that you can increase your power?
    – Learn about why some people unjustly hold more power than you (e.g. those with higher incomes and wealth have more access and influence than those with less). Challenge this wherever and whenever you can.

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