Does Power Corrupt?
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” (by English historian, politician and writer – Lord Acton) is a popular and widely accepted saying. Power is defined as the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events because of your standing and your possessions. We usually relate to power as synonymous with wealth, brute force and fire-arms or celebrity and social standing…. factors which induce a sense of awe, resentment and fear in most of us. And since power corrupts, we hold these factors responsible for causing moral depravity.
But, it’s not the Money. It’s not the Gun. It’s not the high-flying Position. It’s about the choices made by the person owning the money, holding the gun, and occupying the position.
Today, every news channel on TV and every newspaper spits out information on how the high and mighty can, quite literally, get away with murder… simply because they’re powerful people. And then we are subject to the power-games as well – where the bigger sharks get the smaller ones, as is made abundantly clear in global politics. In Mumbai itself, we’ve been witnessing the power-drama between the State’s ruling government, the Central Government, actors, TV channels assuming the role of kangaroo courts, et al. And of course, even closer to home, we have our own constant community-politics. All prominent names. All ‘powerful’ people. Of course, power must corrupt!
Truth is – power is as much a corruptor as it is an enabler. It can corrupt when we choose to abuse our power for greater self-interest – which is the mark of a weak moral identity. But it can also enable and empower good and right action. True power comes alive when we align it with the greater good, and in the positive interests and growth of others.
True power is incorruptible – it is about serving others, not just yourself; Truly powerful people are visionaries; they know how to live in the moment which sets the tone for shaping the future in ways that help, not harm. They are generous and compassionate; they are grateful, and they celebrate life; and one of their biggest powers is their infectious positivity.
It is what we choose to do with power that determines corruption or progress. We all house the power-potential within. To those who choose wisely, more power to you!
Have a lovely weekend!