New Philosopher

New Philosopher 21: Power

Whether it’s using, seeking, circumventing, benefiting from, being subjected to, or railing against it, it’s impossible to deny the influence of power on our lives. We are born powerless, into a structure that demands that we rely on the benevolence of those around us – our parents, our family, our society, our government – and submit to the systems of power in place when and where we’re born.

However, how much power we have, or can potentially have, is more often than not simply a matter of luck. Gender, race, language, preferences – you name it, there are myriad factors out of our control that will determine who holds power, and who does not.

Whether you’re powerful or powerless, there is only one way to avoid its influence: live life as a hermit. But as Aristotle pointed out in Politics, solitude is for beasts and gods, so we have little choice but to deal with it, be it pernicious or benign, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ours or theirs.

If ignored, power will remain lurking in the background, casting a long shadow over our lives. As such, we must shine a spotlight on it, bringing power out into the open so that it might be revealed for what it is.