Friday, February 20, 2009


pow·er, n.
1. The ability or capacity to perform or act.
2. A specific capacity, faculty, or aptitude. Often used in the plural: her powers of concentration.

I am at a seminar on civic leadership and Thursday night the topic was power. I was surprised by 2 things-1. that people at first thought almost all thought power was bad, and 2. that almost none of us wanted to step up and take it. Look at the above definition-the ability to act. Amazing. It's not a bad thing. We talked about the "power of evil", the power people have over us. And about being powerless.

Mary Gonzales was the speaker Thursday night. She and her husband were part of Barack Obama's training while he was in Chicago. Our seminar is confrontational, soul searching stuff-and I am so privileged to be a part of it. I am learning so much.

"Power, properly understood, is the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political, or economic changes. In this sense power is not only desirable but necessary in order to implement the demands of love and justice. One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love.

What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic.

Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love."

Martin Luther King Jr.


  1. Sounds like a wonderful conference! I'm not sure where the polar opposite of love and power comes from. But I, also, believe it a misconception.
    There is so much power that comes with/from love and, conversely, so much love that comnes with/from power. I look forward to reading the about the rest of your workshop.

  2. I'm very interested in this. My opinion is that all of us are more powerful than we can imagine. We don't access it much, but it's there.

    There is a price to be paid when stepping into your own power, though. We've seen what it does to people who don't take it on with grace or who are standing on ethically shaky ground.

    Cool post and ideas. Thanks for making me think!

  3. Chris, thank you for posting this. I love the MLK quote. I wonder if our puritanical cultural heritage is also at work - meek=good must mean that strong, powerful=evil. Of course, power is what is needed to make change, to move forward, to be our best and to bring about the best in our world and in others.


Who's been to Visit?