Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Powers WE carelessly Abuse

POWER!!! A five-letter word we all use fairly carelessly, a recurrent feature in all human activities, yes, ALL.

By the way, this discussion is far from Political; so while you are reading this, kindly take off your political shoes, shut your political eyes, then wear your social goggles and your thinking caps.- this article is not about our political leaders, the corruption, the abuse of power, bla bla bla...those issues overshadow the roles we, as 'ordinary' citizens, play in power relationships, which inevitably find expression in the political power process. 
Ready? Let's shoot!

Ask the average man on the street if he is powerful or if he has power and the ready answer you hear is 'Ah, which power? Abeg, I never reach o, I no get power'. This is because we usually view power as something big, extraordinary, far-fetched...and often,
we assume that all power must be political or religious because 'power' should be something 'powerful' and mighty.

One definition of Power that interests me a lot is the one I read from an essay by Robert Linthicum, which states that 'Power is the capacity, ability and willingness to act.' Capacity means having the wherewithal, the facility, the instrument to act. Ability refers to the skill, aptitude, knowledge and/or competence to act. And the willingness is the resolve and the commitment to act. This analysis means that once you have the capacity, ability and willingness to perform ANY type of action, you have power.

Having said that, we realize that Power is something we all wield at one point or another in our lives, irrespective of our social statuses, political reputations, cultural inclinations, religious beliefs and personal qualities.

Having understood the meaning of power, the abuse of power according to The Business Dictionary, implies:
The act of using one’s position of power in an abusive way. This can take many forms, such as taking advantage of someone, gaining access to information that shouldn’t be accessible to the public, or just manipulating someone with the ability to punish them if they don’t comply.

So before we accuse political leaders of abusing power, let us consider the following ways by which we have also abused the powers we wield.

Emotional Power: Consider that person whom you know loves you so much and can do anything humanly possible to please you...yet, you treat him or her with disdain; you know he/she will always stick around because you possess some level of power over them. You know how they feel about you and that is the weakness you build on.
Consider that woman you call your wife; you batter her, abuse her verbally, cheat on her and treat her unkindly. You know that apart from the fact that she loves you, she cannot think of leaving because she was raised to strive to work out her marriage. You know that even if you throw her out of the house, she will be outside crying for you to open the door, yet you go ahead and do as you wish.
Consider that person who confided in you with a very 'deadly' secret that could destroy him or her. Because you know this ugly story, you resort to blackmail to get whatever you want from your 'victim' whenever you want it.

Economic Power: Consider that Servant, Steward or Messenger in your house or office; you know he will not disobey because he needs to do your bidding to make ends meet. So you take advantage of that weakness, make him do the most derogatory things and treat him with utter inhumanity.
Consider the young lady or young man who needs money from you to settle educational, domestic or other financial problems. You know he or she will do anything in desperation, so you capitalize on it and take a pound of flesh, when in reality, you could have helped them without asking for anything in return.
Consider the members of your family; you know they need your assistance and you know it would take you nothing to render such assistance. Yet you want them to massage your ego and bow to you before you assist. 
Consider that product, which you solely produce or distribute. You know that people will do anything and pay any amount to get that product. You then hoard it, increase the price and perhaps, adulterate it so that you can sell less value for more profit.

Academic Power: Consider that student of yours who is unable to 'sort' you for grades or whom you lust after. You know this student was exceptional but you tell yourself that he or she must dance to your tune or face the music. 
Consider that classmate of yours who is not as academically sound as you are, whom you can help out at your free time; Instead, you need him or her to pay you, get into bed with you or you spend time making fun of him or her.

Physical Power: Consider that helpless young lady or child whom you raped because you could physically overpower her. 
Consider the helpless young man, whose belonging you seized because you could overpower him and shut him up. 

Linguistic Power: Consider the uneducated man or woman you ripped-off by bamboozling him or her with your impeccable command of English; you knew he would not understand what you were referring to, yet you had to brandish words that even you may not have understood, because you needed to rob him of something. Some of us at one time or another, have done this to our parents. It may sound or feel smart, but you abused your power.
Consider that your co-worker from another tribe, who apparently does not understand your language. You have another co-worker who is from your tribe, so you two form a clique and discuss the co-worker from the other tribe, saying things that could drive him to depression if he ever understood.

Official Power: Consider that you are an Accountant in a Church, Office, etc. Because you have first-hand access to the financial resources of the organization, you use it to enrich yourself and when asked, you quote false records, sweetly tweaked to conceal your deeds or claim you were robbed.
Consider that you are in a position to control a queue and ensure that people are attended to according to when they came. Suddenly, your friend or relative walks in and you let them take front spot, making nonsense of the entire order and disregarding the feelings of people who have spent time and energy waiting to judiciously take their turns.

These are only a few of the countless scenarios that portray our daily abuse of power. Political power abuse is just one of the facets of abuse. So, while you rain abuses at political leaders, take a moment to consider that you may be guilty of facets of this same offence. No Abuse of Power is bigger or smaller than the other because most times, it is difficult to quantify the enormity of the damage caused by these seemingly-little abusive behaviours. Political Power Abuse is seen to exist on a macro level; however, these other modes of abuse exist in micro social relationships, which are very widespread though not often spoken of. 
The question is: if we constantly engage in these forms of abuse, can we guarantee that we will not abuse political power if given the opportunity to wield it? If we are unfaithful in small things, how then can we handle big ones?
Answers, please...
Also feel free to make contributions and point out other scenarios that are not listed above. It is time to look inwards.
Happy New Week!

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