THE ABUSE OF POWER

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When it comes to power and the abuse of it, we are all guilty to an extent. It could be that time you were given a position in your primary, secondary, or tertiary institution. Then, you took dominance and made class unbearable for that one student you don’t like for any reason. It could be you refusing to submit their notes or villainously enlisting them on the noisemakers list simply because they coughed. It could be that time in your office when you held a senior position and then repressed your subordinates. You’d subdue them to do your own tasks, send them on your personal errands, and tyrannically give them orders in such a way as if they would lose their jobs if they dared to say NO.

On the family level, abuse of power could be that time when you as the eldest sibling took charge and unequally served the food, keeping the piece of meat to yourself even when you were supposed to apportion it. As Naomi Wolf would say, “it is human nature to abuse power no matter who you are”, so we can only deny we have never been guilty of it.

Power is neither good nor evil. It is what you do with it that matters. In today’s world, the abuse of power we recognize and constantly protest against is the political abuse of power and that of the rich against the poor or the privileged against the underprivileged. Typically, when the battle is between the rich and the poor, the rich briskly use power and influence to buy off the case regardless of the severity of the offense. Whilst this is heinous and does not gracefully depict the change we clamor for in the world, it has become the norm. In fact, people now yearn for power not for the responsibilities that come with it, but for the gratification of selfish purposes.

Abuse of power leads to injustice, injustice in itself is corruption, and corruption as described by Joe Biden is like cancer that eats away citizen’s faith in democracy, diminishes the instinct of innovation and creativity. If the judiciary system continues to operate in the favour of people who have power over those who are truly innocent, the whole system will be in shambles, and the younger generation will effortlessly emulate such contagious evil.

When we talk about abuse of power, we usually focus more on top people in politics, world leaders, our bosses, and others in a higher hierarchy than us, but we must criticize ourselves with that same energy. With the power and position you have, have there been times you consciously subjugated someone simply because you can? Have there been times you exploited your subordinates at work because you are the boss and they cannot question you anyway?

Can you sincerely say you have never abused your power, position, and influence?

The reason you must first start the criticism with yourself is that you cannot live in a glass house and throw stones. You make the world a better place by making yourself a better person. You cannot oppress your subordinates at work, yet lampoon the government when they oppress the masses.

If you are entrusted with power or position, the reason is that someone thought you worthy enough and it is your duty to live up to that worthiness. The essence of great leadership is for influence, not authority. Use the power you have fairly and squarely because, at the end of the day, the measure of a man is what he does with his power.

What are you doing with yours?

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