Power and Control

Power Mad

The meaning of words is constantly changing as the social world changes. Shakespeare for example talked about ‘a naughty world’. He meant ‘a wicked world’. ‘Wicked’ itself has been changed by adolescents into ‘great’. Great is still used as in ‘a great man’ but it is also used in ‘we had a great time’.

‘Power’ has always been associated with leaders of all kinds. It also means the power of the universe, the power of nature which has been of great value to us in so many ways. Yes. It can also be destructive as there are two sides to every benefit.

How we have come to feel ambivalent, and rightly so, about power, is when it is wielded by people who want to tell others what to do. Control and patronize are names for two kinds of power that have fallen into disrepute. For this reason. Governments in many countries tend more and more to increase their power over us. In our own country this power is unfortunately used to try to get professionals to carry out their work in one way only. This has caused great dissatisfaction when such people as teachers and doctors are interfered with by people who know nothing of their subjects. The work of government is to serve the people, not to tell them what to do. This leaves no room for new ideas to come into the professions.

I have noticed the increasing use of the words ‘controlling’, and ‘patronising’. Ask yourselves if you would like to be described by these two adjectives. There is nothing wrong with the words themselves, it is the meaning we give them.

If someone says to you “You are very good at controlling people” or “Don’t patronize me” would you say “Thank you for the nice compliment”. Of course you wouldn’t. Try to work out for yourself how you might use these two words in a way that gets a grateful response. You won’t find it easy. Yet there is nothing wrong with ‘control’ . One of the best things you can do for your children is to help them to learn how to control their actions. Of course you have to be very careful to speak in a soft gentle way and phrase it with the right words so that the children do not get the wrong message.

All adults can help their children by presenting themselves as good examples. If they use their own power wisely their own children will do the same.