Why We Must Not Fear Power

          If there is one singular definitive characteristic possessed by all of our most dreaded evils it is that all seem to possess some significant degree of power. Monsters; Aliens; Demons; Black magic; Secret governments; Evil corporations; Terrorists; Natural disasters; Plagues; All of these things which populate our nightmares are considered threats due to the tremendous amount of power that we fear each of them might possess to change our world in undesirable ways. Even in cases where only a large degree of power is obvious and the actual intentions of these entities remains unclear or inscrutable, such as with aliens, the forces behind various supernatural phenomena, hidden governments, and even our corporate elites, all too often we allow our innate fear of power to inspire dark fantasies and deep distrust about each one of these things.

          It would seem that our very vulnerabilities make it far too risky to adopt any other way of thinking. After all, anything that has ever harmed us has, in doing so, displayed its power, and in seeing that there is some degree of power behind each evil, many of us will inevitably be led to the seemingly reasonable conclusion that there is, indeed, some degree of evil behind every sort of power as well. This, however, is an enormously dangerous assumption to make about power, for many different reasons.

          First, by allowing ourselves to be consumed by such fear, we cut ourselves, and, more importantly, the objects of our fear, off from love. Deprived of love, we can, and do, all become a bit twisted, and this is a malefic influence that will inevitably leave its mark on not only the fearful but the feared as well. This can be tragic enough when the objects of our fear might have been otherwise inclined to bend their powers towards our or even the common good, but it is truly a catastrophe in those cases where those whose hearts are most in need of unconditional love are instead forced to fester and rot even further without it, lost in an unforgiving darkness of their own sad alienation. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that.”

          Yet not only is it dangerous to turn one’s back on love because of the various emotional needs of the powerful, it is also important, for the sake of love itself, that we not reject our own potential to have power as well. Divinity, heroism, and the highest levels of intelligence are all defined by equal parts love and power in abundance. To turn one’s back on power is to become hapless, martyred, or both, and self-victimization is simply the most convoluted form of human villainy. If we turn our backs on power, it is true that we remove our potential to be an instrument of evil, but we also fail to be able to serve goodness, and it is a far better thing to be able to become an expression of the divine than to become yet another sign of its defeat.

          Perhaps most tragically, fear of all monsters tends only to reveal our own unexamined fears of ourselves; not only our more obvious fear of being unable to raise the power necessary to protect ourselves, but also the fear of what we might do with such power if we suddenly found it. This later fear is nothing more than a fear of our own potential inabilities to love; the fear that we, to some degree, are already monstrous ourselves, and that this fact might quickly be revealed once we're faced with another’s power and thereby forced to display our own.

          Although our desires to be good engender a deep commitment to love within many of us, if any of us desire to be better, we must be careful not to forget power as well. So please, if you wish to understand what makes any of us truly great, do not fear your monsters. The worst thing that you will possibly find, should you be brave enough to go off into the darkness to meet them, is yourself.

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