“Money makes the world go round”. This wise yet cynical phrase indicates that money is the medium of one of the basic needs we can’t live without. Indeed, money can get you food, water, clothes, and a house, but behind this currency is another important factor- power. In this day and age, many associate power to the government body since they are at the top of the hierarchy in our country. Power can also be seen in our daily lives like in the classroom as teachers or at home as the head of the household, yet what drives the power dynamic? What makes people follow the orders of one person or group and how are they affected by this? Is there more than one way to use power? What is power? Is it the power to ensure the obedience of others or is it the agency of others to do whatever they want? Why is power so desirable?
One way to think about it is that political nature of power which is the ability to do something or influence others to act in some way. Power is authority. With authority, a person can control and influence the behavior of people. For instance, as the oldest of four in my family, I have some influence on my mother. This so-called influence is mostly me persuading my mother to let me off in regards to menial chores such as doing the laundry or washing the dishes. This example explains the freedom I get away from chores since I have three other siblings to do it for me, a concept that will be explained further later on. Another more appropriate example of the usage of power would most likely be the power one has as the head of the household. Many such figures are male and thus lead the family patriarchy but in my family’s case, it’s slightly more ambiguous. My family is mostly run by my mother since my father works from dawn to sunset, but they both have equal say in the important matters. From this we know power legitimizes social structures and hierarchy and that power can be shared, but why would one need power?
What drives them to want power? One needs power in order to control others to do their bidding whether it be for good or bad reasons. The relationship between power and control can be seen in the following examples. In my parent’s case, they need the power to get the children to do their chores and do their homework. In the classroom, the teacher would have the students learn and focus on the subject. In the case of the government, the order must be maintained and justice must be sought. On the other hand, those who consider themselves powerless may want said power simply because they dislike the feeling of being helpless to do something, bad or good, or simply because they don’t want to be ordered around by others, to be subjugated. Regardless, power is something that’s rather necessary in the community we live in maybe even more than money because with power, one can obtain money and sustainability.
There are also many other ways to use power. With power, not only can you gain a certain amount of freedom to do whatever you want but also the ability to change the lives of others. Now, there are negative and positive connotations to the use of power. Initially, many think power is related to an authority figure such as a monarch or the principal. Depending on the state of the economy and the livelihood of the country, this can be a positive or negative situation since those who live under a tyrant will, of course, believe power can make the lives of the people miserable. For example, with power and with enough money, one can get away with anything in the modern era. However, not all people who use power have malicious or immoral intentions. Power can be seen as the ability to do good and save lives if that power is in the hands of people with the right intention. Thus, whether or not power is used for good or bad, it is still something that enables a person to accomplish their goal.
How are people affected by power? There’s a phrase that goes like this: “There will always be someone better than you”. This phrase is usually used to encourage someone, but for the aforementioned question, it will be used to explain the issue. Talent or skill may be related to the accumulation of power, but power can also suppress such talented people. Therefore, the part where it says “better” than you can be interpreted as having more status, connections, or wealth to accomplish. Thus, if some people have no power or there exists someone with more power, they have no choice but to grudgingly accept orders passively unless they want to offend the person. In our modern era, we have ways to fight back, but back then there were no such measures to protect the people if someone of higher status wanted to take advantage of someone. For example, the tragic occurrence of the My Lai Massacre and the meaning behind the picture of the Black Blouse Girl reveals the helplessness of the locals in the face of the American army. In this way, people with less power may be subjected to maltreatment or worse depending on who is in charge. Otherwise, the people will only have to do menial labor at the request of the person with the means ranging from performing a task such as making coffee to more unfortunate situations.
Everybody has power, but the amount everybody has differs. Even those we consider the most powerful are restricted. For example, our government has three branches of power: the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch. Each branch checks and balances each other so no one has more power than the other. In other words, power can assist a big entity like an empire to keep its people in check. It can also be viewed as the foundation of empire since power is passed down through the structural hierarchy making up the empire no matter how restricted it gradually becomes the farther it goes down the spectrum.
Comparatively, some who do have power desire for even more power. While power can give one greater accessibility to a variety of things, it can also instill a kind of greed that can be overwhelming and be consuming. Once one has tasted such freedom and comfort, the idea of living without control can lead to a sense of insecurity. Likewise, the same can be said about one’s self-esteem if some amount of control disappears. Representations of power-hungry people are depicted in Disney villains such as Ursula from The Little Mermaid and Jafar from Aladdin in which both targeted the throne. These two villains got their just desserts, but the same can’t be said in real life. It can be addicting to have control, but wanting more than what one already has may affect the relationships around you. If someone is too controlling and keeps on trying to restrict the freedom to speak or act may cause that person’s friends, family, or loved one to avoid them. Just like how one dislikes being controlled and wants to be free, others are the same, for “With great power comes great responsibilities”.
In the end, power is the capability of an individual or a group to influence others to behave in a certain way or the ability to do something. It may be to control others to do something or it may be to help others and spread awareness of societal issues. It can also be used by empires to maintain order. Those affected by the use of power can choose to accept such rule or they can choose to resist either way their way of living will change because of this factor known as power. Like cars that can’t run without gas, it seems like our society can’t function without those who have power. Without this relationship between the dominated and those who dominate, work will never be done. Imagine. If nobody had power, if we didn’t need power, how would society function? Would there be a society? How will the definition of power differ from our modern definition?