San Francisco – California




Text and Photography By Alan Briskin




On Power And Self-Actualization




We often think of power as a type of force; one has the ability to impose one’s opinions, ideas, or even one’s self onto others.  In my training as a business consultant, it was not uncommon to define leadership as the power to make people do what they would normally not do on their own.


Power is also associated with hierarchy, a position one has over something or someone.  In a social context, power typically refers to the person highest in the pecking order or literally on the highest floor of the building. Power is associated with both height and breadth, an all-encompassing capacity to have one’s way.  And this of course leads to all kinds of mischief, corruption, and evil.  Over two hundred years ago the British statesman, Edmund Burke, captured the fear succinctly when he declared, “The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse”.  And this understanding of power as a type of unholy force has not changed much in the intervening years.


One consequence is the wish to contain power, sterilize it of its potency, or undermine it.  Social justice initiatives invariably attempt to “speak truth to power”, a phrase capturing the perceived sense of polarity that exists between power and desired social values such as truth,as well as justice and love.  At a personal level, this negative view of power makes it difficult, if not wrong, to seek power,and is used to diminish others by projecting onto them a damning critique of their wishing to have power.


Continued in On Power And Self-Actualization – Part 2.



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