Politics and Power


Probably we can agree that politics is mostly about power.

My computer software says that power is:   “control and influence over other people and their actions.”   So my personal power is important to me, because I don’t like “them” controlling me.   But even more important is the power of us together to grow a good future for our children and grandchildren.  Our power is our ability to get from where we are to where we want to go, either individually or collectively.

The problem most people have with power is that we only recognize very few ways that people are influenced.  We recognize:

The cry of a baby for its mother.
The heavy hand of the playground bully.
The unstoppable winds of a Katrina.
And of course, money.

But these are only a few examples of power.  The power to control anything comes in many forms and the person or group with a long term goal and a well rounded understanding of the many faces of power is far more likely to succeed than the bully on the playing field, who only knows one kind of power — only one way to get what he wants or needs.  That bully will probably “win” for now, but the long-term outcome is predictable.  He will lose more than he will gain.  His victims will be many and there is a good chance they will find a way to outwit him using powers that he can not see.

“There is this danger.  Sometimes a man in armor may not even know he is     attacked.  He will be slow to see,  slow to hear, slower still to feel.”  Hercule Poirot in Dead Man’s Mirror, by Agatha Christie.

Good intentions do not change the outcomes of bad behavior.  Over the long term bad behavior always comes around and bites us from the rear.  (That’s why we call it bad.)  The self-defeating results of our country’s bad behaviors over the last 8 years was entirely predictable and was predicted by many.

Thus, the first rule of power must be to study the reality of the situation we are in — to study it from every angle — including the predictable long-term results of whatever actions we finally decide to do.  Our power lives in our willingness to understand the realities that we face, and to discuss them among ourselves in positive effort to set achievable goals and then to find the kind of power that will take us from where we are to where we need to go if the future is to be better rather than worse for our children and our grandchildren.

OK, I’m assuming that is our communal goal.  To build a good future for our community.  Anyone disagree?