With great power comes great responsibility.
~ Uncle Ben (The Amazing Spiderman.)
We love to throw quotes such as the one above in the faces of individuals of influence, where we feel their conduct has fallen short of our expectations of them, like a moral lesson tagging at the end of an animated tale. As in the case of the typical pious congregant who is quick to express regret about the absenteeism of a fellow worshiper in a church service, where the sermon – as if by divine alignment – seems only relevant to the latter’s circumstances, and not at all significant to the former, we fail to apply on ourselves necessary ointments that we so readily judge fit for others.
We are all on someone’s pedestal; just as we are at another’s footstool. By this I mean that we all have the capability to impact someone’s life, and to be impacted, for the better or worse. We all have a responsibility to another. We are looked up to just as we look up to others, and are vulnerable just as others are. And, as in barter trade, we feed off each other’s gifting and hard work, and learn from others just as they learn from us.
Power comes from a place of entrusted advantage, for a rule can only be built on the loyalty and the sweat off the backs of its subjects. The aspect of power and responsibility transcends podiums of public address, bank accounts and offices, and trickles into culture and family where, for example, age may determine positions of command, respect or influence. The social reliances and connections that exist within the family, and the fact that family is the smallest unit of society, put in perspective the web of critical inter-dependencies that undeniably exists in the human race, as with living matter of various species benefiting by proximity in a well balanced ecosystem.
There is therefore absolutely no excuse for abuse of any nature, whether by word or deed, if only because of this conflict of interest pre-wired into our existence. All mankind has been summoned by God into being. If God Himself became man and washed His disciples’ feet, and allowed Himself to be spat on by mere mortals without His sovereignty ever being shaken, and then asks us to follow Him, we have no excuse but to practice humility. Jesus was twelve when He held an academic exchange with seasoned scholars, and later pointed to even younger children, commanding that we learn from them. So who are you to wield age or finances, office or academics as warrants for abuse and manipulation?
If we have to shove our jeweled crowns down the throats of our subordinates in order to gain a following, respect, admiration, influence or even acceptance, we become no wiser than the emperor who – duped to parade his own nudity in a purported show off of splendor through new clothing – exposes untenable folly, made even more grave by the alarm of a bold innocent child – the least among us. Such stints are manifestations of lonesome, unhappy souls crying out for rescue, yet rejecting and bruising extended hands of fellowship for fear of being perceived as lowly, thereby denying themselves the healing they so instinctively yearn for.
It takes strength to lift another to a higher power. Therefore, based on the premise that ‘hurting people hurt people’, it is the weakest among us that further weaken the weak, distorting the mutually beneficial relationships that hoist the critical frameworks of our community.
All man’s efforts are first geared towards self-preservation, as through harnessing food, clothing and shelter – the most basic of needs – which is best accomplished by communal effort. In contrast, the most deprived among us maim others, and by that, maim themselves – a vicious and unnatural retrogressive cycle.
Thus, if your so-claimed power harms and dis-empowers the guiltless, you suffer a sickness, and hold no true power at all.
Power isn’t control at all — power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others that they may have the strength to stand on their own.
~ Beth Revis, Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)
The measure of a man is what he does with power.
Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power.
~ John Steinbeck
My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.
~ Desmond Tutu
A man who makes trouble for others is also making trouble for himself.
~ Chinua Achebe
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