What is the basis, the core foundation, of a relationship? It can be a number of things. Part of this depends on who is involved in the relationship. It could be between individuals, or groups, or institutions, etc.
Power is one basis of a relationship. When power is the basis of a relationship, then it will probably end in war or a power struggle of some kind. That’s because most people who base relationships on power believe that power is a limited resource that only a few can possess – and guess who should possess it? That’s a false understanding about power though. It’s a better understanding of authority though. Power and authority are two very different things. Not everyone can have or be in a position of authority. But you can be in a position of authority and have no power. You can also be in a position of absolutely no authority, but have a significant amount of power. Authority is a title that is given. Power is based on the relationship between people.
Politics is ultimately about power – who’s got it and what are they doing with it. But it’s combined with authority – or rather tainted by authority so that often the two are seen as intermixed and interrelated to the point that there is a belief that there is no difference between the two.
So we end up with a few people with authority fighting and clawing at each other to gain and horde as much power as possible because they confuse power with authority. Just look at Washington, DC for some examples. It really doesn’t matter which party you look at – it’s been this way for quite some time now – well before any of us were born.
Those that have authority, but lack self-confidence and self-awareness, will try to make up their lack of self-confidence and self-awareness with a pursuit of power. They think if they have power, it will fill in any weakness or gaps in themselves.
They see power as something like a spot light – it will shine on them – and they will use up all of the light that is shining on them. Instead, what power does for these folks is show the weakness of character for all to see.
Light isn’t designed to be horded – but to be spread. The same is true for power. It is best used when it is spread out and touches as many people as possible – when many are empowered to make decisions about their own lives and used for the betterment of the many.
It is abused when it is used for the betterment of the few or the one at the expense of the many. Then it is just tyranny. And it is why those who horde power end up losing it or having it taken away.
There are other options though. We can base our relationships on love, respect, trust, etc. These are much healthier. And they have a different focus – outward, towards the other. These things are focused on empowering others, seeing what is best for all involved. They are risky though. They take time and they leave us vulnerable. You have to have confidence, or maybe a better word is faith. Faith that the other person is seeking the same thing that you are – a thriving life.
What are your relationships with others and with institutions based on?