I have witnessed power to be the ability to influence someone else’s life. I’ve experienced power as violence and the capacity and willingness one has to use force towards one’s desired end. Power insulates the one who possesses it from feeling the infirmities of the masses. I view power as a weapon of protection from the shadow side of humanity.
Growing up and having started off life in poverty has informed my view of what it is to not have power. Powerlessness is not being able to provide an answer to belligerent bill collectors. Powerlessness is going to the “check casher” because your bank account is over-drafted. Not because of mismanagement, but because of a missed paycheck. Worse, powerlessness is thinking that somehow you deserve to be hungry because you haven’t climbed your way up the economic ladder.
Resources offered here have helped me conceptualize (and hopefully use) power differently. Not as good or evil, but simply organized people or money. I gravitated towards power defined as the ability to act. I thought of what of Martin Luther King Jr. wrote about time in his Letter from Birmingham Jail – that time is neutral. It’s about how one uses it. Power is the same in that it is characterized by its use/user.
Power, to me, is recognizing that justice is on my side. And capitalizing on opportunities to collaborate with allies to plan, act, and build habits that create new realities.
Max shared a map that jumped out to me. I immediately went to my white board to use it as a template to show our team how we can think about and approach our ‘projects” large and small.