Power, like love, is given and received in the context of a relationship. Most people have been trained to be on the receiving end of someone else’s power- it is socially normal. Ultimately, all standards for social acceptability derive from whether or not you are able to stay in the position of dependency/powerlessness. Children, for instance, are conditioned to suppress their own expression of power and submit to the authority of adults and parents. Women are socialized to acquiesce to the whims of men. Blacks have been broken to conform to the powerless image (and position) that whites have allocated for Blacks in society. Christians have been religiously educated to yield personal power to the power of GOD. And the newest generation is being reared to trade their real power and intelligence (via consent) for the conveniences of technological power and artificial intelligence.
Most people don’t know their own power. And similar to a mutant in the X-Men series who has discovered they have powers for the first time, they are scared, ignorant of how to use them, and unintentionally destructive with them. Like Elsa in Disney’s Frozen, they attempt to hide it so they can be normal—or like Rapunzel in Disney’s Tangled, they are hidden and (ab)used so that someone without power can take full advantage of their power.
As I observe and critique the recent happenings in the world, I am excited to see people waking up to their power—to witness the movement of the (powerful) people discovering the power in unity, civil disobedience, peaceful protest, consist action, and even love. I argue, however, that we are still very much in the novice stages of discovering/ exerting our power, which leaves us vulnerable to be used/abused by people with more knowledge of our power.
Yes, there is power in numbers. But when large numbers of powerful people limit their expression to creative chants and strongly worded demands, it is clear they don’t have an accurate understanding of the full extent of their power or even power dynamics generally. Demanding justice is one thing. Getting justice is an entirely different thing. Calling 911 when an intruder enters your house is one thing. Protecting your family and defending your home for yourself is something entirely different. Praying to GOD is one thing. Using the power GOD gifted you is something entirely different. And while I understand the necessity of both, I observe most people (in all aforementioned distinctions) leaning more towards the dependence position (depending on people with power) than the independent position (using your own power for your personal elevation and uplift).
Lesson ONE: Power is expressive. Exerting it is the only way to use it.