How is Power best defined? For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; real Power is internally generated; Control is applied externally.
By Robert Simmons
The fundamental concept in social science is Power, in the same sense in which Energy is the fundamental concept in physics.Bertrand Russell, Power: A New Social Analysis (1938)
Power has gotten a bad name ever since people showed up, and attached themselves to the hull of Spaceship Earth. Remove people from the equation for a moment, and the real Power around here becomes more apparent: the Sun, and all its brothers and sisters, are what bring hope to an otherwise dark and empty void. Thankfully for us, they practice social distancing, and appear to all get along.
Our Sun rules over us from afar, though still manages to radiate tremendous Power. As monarchs go, It is extremely bright, full of warmth, and consistently reliable; the Sun’s most impressive quality, however, is that It gives unconditionally. It doesn’t seem to need anything from us, even while we remain completely dependent on It. No wonder we naturally gravitate toward It. We are the Sun’s followers, and thankfully, It doesn’t appear interested in acquiring more followers, or unfollowing the ones It already has.
Control, on the other hand, is what humans seek. Saying a human has Power is like saying an ant has Power, but like ants, we have a deep-seated compulsion to make the space around us more certain, and will grab and carry away 5,000 times our weight if no one stops us. Compared to the rest of the Universe, we are weak, but compared to each other, subtle variations do exist, which instead of being appreciated, often have been exploited in order to establish an arbitrary order of relative strength.
Before conscious thought could better instruct us, we began a Tradition of clashing over Control of any and all resources, with the built-in excuse they were, by our current level of understanding, “finite”.
Control is a dysfunctional relationship perpetuated by vulnerability; oddly, people who experience physical vulnerability will submit themselves to someone who is working through some vulnerability issues of their own. Bothattempt to rectify this: one by attempting to lead from a position of self-proclaimed “invulnerability”, and the rest, by allowing this psychological delusion to play out (in the hope of winding up less physically vulnerable in the aftermath).
Once Control is ceded to someone who actually wants it, they will not be served to give it up. Ironically, in order to maintain control, they must continue to perpetuate vulnerability. In this manner, Control is initiated when people are physically vulnerable, and is maintained by keeping them that way; without constant vulnerability, despotism and the ensuing oppression it incites would never gain a foothold.
If there is truly anyone among us who seeks Power, and not Control, we will know it because of their singular purpose to make all people less vulnerable; this is the only way to free ourselves from the trap of Oppression: to proverbially let go of external control in order to gain internal power.
Joss Whedon Mom, He’s Doing it Again (2007)
Step one is to correctly define Power.
People do not abuse Power; they only abuse the word ‘Power’. We keep using the word Power when we actually mean Control. Power is defined by how much one gives (or gives off, for instance the Sun’s generous contribution); Power elicits a gain or benefit to those who are near it. Control is defined by what one is able to take for themselves.
What you radiate from within (that benefits others, or empowers them) is the most Power an individual human can ever attain. It may incidentally cause people (in close proximity) to fall into orbit around you, or inspire others to likewise radiate their power more generously towards others, but once you seek to retain Control of these things that Power has afforded you, you have lost your way.
Currently in the U.S., the next round of “stimulus checks” are in the mail. This token gesture, of course, will only momentarily alleviate vulnerability for people, but does subliminally reinforce this dysfunctional notion that any outside entity could ever provide us with an internal sense of certainty. Meanwhile, those in Control of this Economic Vehicle will continue to drive It forward, one invisible hand on the wheel, and We the People, the pistons of this Vehicle, will remain down below in the engine, firing away.
If anyone claims to hold the key to unlock these chains of Oppression, make sure you ask them to show it to you first. The Third Option has the key, and is perfectly ready to hand it over. Unfortunately, the key is designed to free everyone, so it will take everyone in order to turn it.