They say all good things come in threes. Given the widespread symmetry in nature, the same probably holds true for all bad things too. Right now, we are living through three pandemics. The first two are pretty obvious: the global Covid-19 epidemic and the related universal financial crisis. Though less newsworthy, the third, once mentioned, will seem equally obvious: the worldwide abuse and misuse of power, whether personal, professional, status, collective, or institutional. From localized domestic abuse through sex trafficking to abuses by people in authority (e.g., some Catholic priests and sports coaches) to flourishing authoritarian governments.
The search is on for a cure and a vaccine for the first. The second will heal itself once populations are free to go back to work. But what about the third? The so-called “domination system” has been alive and well since time immemorial. Lord Acton’s saying that power corrupts and absolute power does so absolutely is well-known and seems true as ever. Yet power is, like atomic energy, value neutral. It’s how you use it that counts: atoms for peace or for war.
For my part, I am advocating for the emerging BePowerPositive Movement, growing out of the work of Dr. Cedar Barstow, psychotherapist and ethics trainer in Boulder, Colorado. Through her nonprofit Right Use of Power Institute (www.rightuseofpower.org) and her two books on using power with wisdom and skill (Right Use of Power—The Heart of Ethics, 2005, 2015 and Living in the Power Zone—How Right Use of Power Can Transform Your Relationships, 2013), thousands of individuals in North American, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand have been trained. But that is not enough. Therefore, Cedar and the Institute have now started a BePowerPositive Movement. You can learn more at www.bepowerpositive.org or the Be Power Positive Facebook page. The idea is to create a “power vaccine” to help insure the positive uses of power for the Greater Good. Needed is a counter-pandemic, with helpful uses of power, both private and collective, overcoming harmful ones. So, join us now in becoming part of this movement by learning how to Be PowerPositive and helping to shepherd the world past centuries-old misuses of power. To paraphrase the words of Rabbi Hillel, “If not now, when? If not us, who?” With any luck, this hopeful turn of events will itself go viral.