The first definition of power in Dictionary Dot Com, "the ability to do or act; a capability of doing or accomplishing something" suggests that power is essential to the survival of sentient beings. As long as it is a capacity used cautiously and mindfully by complex, intelligent beings, it's good. But when it is a value separate from life, worshipped for power's sake, then it becomes stupid! It is incapable of understanding what it does or what it destroys.
Yet we live in a post-Orwellian world where power is isolated as something over and above all else.
Mohammad Shaffia who was found guilty of killing his first wife and three daughters could have been motivated by that separation of power from life, and those who were not killed possibly lived in constant terror of that power. Any father, tormented by his own addiction to control, may end up by destroying the lives of all those he feels bound to protect.
The publicized response by other Canadians, in the safety of their own living rooms, was predictable - they called for the end of honour killings, for immigrants to adopt good Canadian values. Some blamed Islam saying it was a sign of the primitive nature of the religion, but I doubt these critics would blame Christianity for the crimes committed by Nazis who identified as Christian. And will these commentators hiding behind their online identities be engaged when there are discussions around supporting families at risk on a social level? Will they question our society at all, in terms of how it glorifies power for power's sake? The assumption of moral superiority, by association, without sacrifice or reflection, enables this superficial disembodied sense of power.
A study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found lower intelligence scores in childhood were predictors of greater racism in adulthood, and the tendency to adopt the kind of unexamined right-wing ideologies that create illusions of power. This was given much media coverage a few months ago.
George Monbiot weighed in with his own applause for this story, quoting a former Republican ideologue, Mike Lofgren, who notes that the party, has inflamed an anti-intellectual hostility to science, appealing to the “low-information voter”. Lofgren doubts that the leaders believe in their propaganda but are happy to “feed the worst instincts of their fearful and angry low-information political base”.
There can be no doubt that powerful interests feel they are winning when they fund and support the dumbing down of Western societies, with lies, doublespeak and propaganda, but destroying the commons in this way, ultimately makes intelligence and life, redundant.
In the quest for power, our own federal government seems bent on destroying Canada and Canadians' sense of social justice by overwriting complex systems with new laws, that enable "low-information" citizens a fleeting sense of power by association. Feelings of spurious power for the masses replace the power invested in human rights and systems of justice.
No doubt, the young minds we are raising almost exclusively on violent entertainments in hostile communities, where heinous acts get front page and citizen's struggles to do the right thing are invisible, will grow up with little other than contempt for humanity.
But power doesn't mind at all. Power is not a living entity with a brain and nervous system, it is a tool for complex beings that must be handled cautiously to create a cooperative sustainable future. Otherwise, as we have seen, century after century, it destroys the living communities who worship it.
Love is powerful, but in its true sense it is based on nurture and care of and for other sentient beings. Love is hurt by what it harms. Love is moved by the power of love, whereas power alienated from life does not feel joy or grief.