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Today’s section from Descending into War, Descending into Contempt, pp. 20-21:
The Desire for Power
“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”
In this quote by Tom Jefferson, power is in front of us, to be used when needed, with awareness of its effects and with awareness of its dangers. Awareness is the important factor for power, because its intoxicating nature is addictive.
The availability of power is elusive; it seems to be permanent when it is in one’s possession, yet it can fail when the power is assumed to be a right. Power depends upon feelings of entitlement, ability to speak authoritatively, physical features, self-centeredness, and desire for control. When all that one wants is one’s own satisfaction, power becomes addictively desired, and the feelings of entitlement and desire for control silence the sense of compassion. Without compassion, the desire for power becomes personal. It becomes a character trait that is overly defining. When power ceases, the person is left bereft of identity and control.
Having power for the sake of power is unwise. The power loses its focus and misdirects actions that then bring lessened potential. Power is meant to be used for creative endeavors, not for physical dominance or emotional manipulation. Taking the power, misdirecting it, and desiring its pull causes the power-hungry person to act contemptuously. The behavior brings combative reactions into relationships and negotiations. The more the power is used needlessly, the less reliance on wisdom occurs.
Greater are the actions that spring from observation and wisdom than are the actions that push from self-importance and foolhardiness.
Next section: “Dreading Events”