Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Abuse of Power

Power can be defined as the ability to exert one's will over another. Power is addictive, and those who have it seek to maintain it or keep it for as long as possible, regardless of the personal or material cost. One of the problems of the possession of power throughout history has been the "might makes right" syndrome. People who have the power to control others believe that they are right because they have the power to control others. Hence the old adage: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Anyone who thinks he or she is wielding power for the sake of good rather than evil needs to be willing to accept a check and balance system that allows others to alert the person in power of a deviation from the path toward societally approved goals. Is power assumed for the sake of efficiency justified? Sometimes, but only in pursuit of very limited and well-defined goals. The problem often lies in determining what goals are worthy of granting power to a leader, and whether that leader feels that the end justifies the means. One who assumes power should take a sunset pledge to agree in advance to yield that power when the approved limited goal has been achieved or when a designated date has been reached. The addiction of power causes a leader to feel unique and irreplaceable, a situation that causes other viable leaders to protest and rebel.

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