Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thought for the Day - The Power Principle

It is said that to know a man's true character you must give him power and see what he does with it. People change instantly. Our latent cruelties come out when we feel absolute power. When we feel that we are not answerable to anyone we do anything.

Little children kill ants and flies because they sense their power over them. Bullies at school do the same when they beat dogs and cats, clip butterfly wings, bully younger and weaker children. People who employ servant maids etc show their cruelty by torturing them, to this day. Society ridicules the lonely woman, the differently abled, the colored, the low castes. There are many who still believe that they belong to an era of masters and slaves and treat people accordingly.

At a more personal and urban level, people are amazingly cruel in relationships when they sense that they have some power over the other, a side that seems to come out almost as if they cannot help it. The same kind of power comes with position as one sees in offices, and people use the power to vent out their innate frustrations on the ones who can take it. At a higher level, politicians, superstars and sportsmen, also start believing that they are invincible and take everyone for granted and abuse their power.

In all cases where there is an abuse of power, there is a strong feeling by the powerful that at that moment, he or she is invincible. That he can gt away. That nothing will happen. This feeling is magnified by the victim, who somehow seems to appear helpless in that moment - in appearance, strength, will - and who seems to invite the abuse almost. In almost all cases, the victim, unfortunately, almost invites the attention of the perpetrator by the sheer helplessness one feels. And the perpetrator enjoys pushing the abuse just to see how much the victim can take. There are those that get used to it - the Stockholm syndrome if you please.

It is a game, one where energy flows so subtly that it invites abuse from both the perpetrator and the victim. At times it almost appears that the victim himself is crying out to be abused. And the irony is that the perpetrator is himself a victim. He has not ever been in a position where he has been able to realise his real power, the innate one. And he is like a person who is so happy find it for the first time. Using it like a beggar who goes galloping on a horse he is riding for the first time. Somewhere along the way he has missed the critical part of his education, his evolution that real power is about being responsible, about compassion, about how you would treat the others when they are totally naked, devoid of any power, energy. How you would expect them to treat yo if you were in their shoes.

Through the years the progress of humanity has seen the unspeakable atrocities committed under the banner of slavery, untouchability, racism and gender bias flowing from the so called progressive cultures. It is not about culture, it is about power. From the lowest form of power at play, as we notice in our day to day relationships in our family, work areas, to the highest where peoples, communities, races, genders abuse the lesser, it is always about power. And as long a person cannot respect another human being, cannot respect individual choices, cannot respect and love the weak and the aged and the disabled, he has not business to be in power. That is the only criteria in a democracy, in a civilised world.

But then power is always a double edged sword. For someone to take it, another must give it. The one that is bearing the brunt, the ones who are disadvantaged must group together, must protect themselves, must not let any energy flow loose so the predators can attack. It is their responsibility to not give in, to be free, to fight, evade, escape - do anything but give in. And the way to do it is to individually hold strong at the thought level and not be dependent and trust oneself and their ability, and secondly as a group by organising themselves better and seek an equal life. From families to politics, villages to countries the story is the same. And at this point in time of our evolution it is completely unacceptable that people in power show no responsibility and instead behave like young boys who have caught butterflies. They are young no more. And if we tolerate it, we are only allowing the power to be abused. Today, the butterfly, tomorrow it could be you.


Madhav said...

Hari, this is a topic I have thought often about. Are humans basicly cruel. No other spieces on earth is capable of the willfull cruelty as humans. The wild predators kill for food and nothing else.

Only other examples of such wanton cruelty is see in chimpanzees. And dolphins too have been seen to exibhit such behavior.

Both highly intelligent speices. So we can conclude the more intelligent the speices the more cruelty they are capable off.

Now the question is within the speices are the more intelligent members more cruel?

Are humans with more than average intellegence more cruel.

I don't know?

Harimohan said...

I think you are right there. Intelligence - cruelty corelation appears high. Perhaps we must distinguish here between the ones who are intelligent but are not mature (as in developing a compassionate world view where one co exists with all creatures of nature). Intelligence by itself is a dangerous thing to have and can create some weird reactions.