Social Power Can Be Hurtful. Has Anyone Not Been Hurt By Its Use?

A single mother told me she would teach her son that power is evil.

Her manner told me someone had hurt her, so I did not ask what kind of power she would use to produce that result.

The shortest dictionary definition I’ve seen: power is the ability to produce a result.

People can use reward or punishment to produce results. They can use knowledge or charisma, Or they can get consent.

Why this discussion?

Theism, and what theists are using to impose their practices on us. They are not seeking consent.

Those who are experiencing the end of the “white xianity” they’ve known will increase their use of the other forms of power.

Some of us need to rebel. Others of us can respond more calmly. To win we will need the energy of those who are rebelling and the planning of those who are calm.

Your thoughts?

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Social power can be directed as surely as any other form can, and the difference remains THE DIRECTION it is applied in (the vector).  I stand by my original statement.

Loren, think vector fields.

If you are directing social power at one person, your vector has a non-zero length only while it is producing results. You might not know when.

If you are directing social power at N persons, you have N vectors and they have non-zero lengths only while they are producing results. Knowing when will be more difficult.

If distances are short you can use two dimensions and Euclidean space. If distances are long you will need spherical geometry. Is that Riemann’s space or Lobachevski’s?

You have an opportunity to become a modern-day Euclid, or to quaff a few fifths of single malt if it’s still a favorite.

Loren, I knew someone would do it, and you did.

To discourage what you did, I used the term “social power” in this discussion’s title.

You engineers can be such a bother.

When I lived in Phoenix, a quite attractive single mother I knew told me her engineer husband came from work one day and showed her a list, in order of their importance, of personal qualities she needed to improve.

Chuckling, she added, “I divorced him.”

Softening the blow, she added too that he did work hard.

Tom, I know the type, "Here is what you need to do to be acceptable!{ I, too, divorced the man. I discovered that I was perfectly capable of managing and supporting a home and lifestyle. The greatest revenge was happiness and self-respect. 

I remember the happiness is the best revenge mantra.

When I heard it I knew it was true. But, unable to do what happiness required, I became angry at, of all things, being happy. I didn’t know then I needed to mourn first. 

Sadly, mourning is part of the process, especially out of depression and anxiety. Even the processes needed to work through death and dying as identified by Kubler-Ross and her colleagues, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, DABDA, appear to be part of overcoming depression and anxiety as well. 

Just this past month, I went into a deep depression, I knew it when it was happening and I used all the skills and training I had in an attempt to stop it from happening. Long story made short, I went through DABDA before I was able to overcome the dark hole. 

I do not like the environment of my home with my son and his family; depression's black cloud overwhelmed me even as I recognized what was happening. I attempted to jump over DABDA and could not. 

I only have 21 more days here and I will be returning to Newport, WA. I am slowly recovering the joy of life and looking forward to waking up in the morning. I am certain had there been a gun in the house that I knew where it was, I would have committed suicide. I do not say this to alarm others or to call attention to myself. I am telling my story because it is true. I am not alone; many other people experience the feelings I just had and don't have the training to recognize the process.  

I also have very supportive families who recognized the patterns and did not scold or criticize me. As I was taking the training at Whitworth College and working on my research there, my kids were in high school at the time and they learned right along with me. 

My granddaughter just completed her training and earned her certificate for Emergency Response Training for the District 8 Volunteer Fire Department and her five children were able to learn many things as she worked on her mastery. They all, ranging in ages from 20 to 10, know how to help me get up when I fall without hurting their backs. They also know how to do a team lift. I fall a lot. 

Joan ... for the record ... I am very damned glad you are alive ... for the contributions you've made here on A|N and in the way you have helped and inspired me.

You make a difference and a significant one.  Don't ever doubt that.

Oh, yeah ... us engineers can be such a bother ... but without us, you wouldn't have cars or computers or building materials or radios or televisions or CDs or DVDs or the internet or GPS or any one of ten thousand things that we have innovated over the past 100 years or so.

You're welcome.

Yeah, Loren, engineers do that and more. If however vector algebra is your only tool, approximating social situations will require horrific equations. Each vector, probably in a field of vectors, will have a non-zero length for moments at a time. Prediction? Im-cottonpicking-possible.

Joan, legitimate power is an ability to make demands? If the demands are not satisfied, what remains but the ability to punish?

I searched on “legitimate power” and saw it defined as resulting from a formal position or office in a hierarchy.

Severaj years ago you posted a rather long list of forms of power. You were more creative then than you are now.

Thanks for the feedback, Tom. I am flattered that you read both pieces!

it's a bad attitude to start from - you might as wel say that fire is evil because you were burnt. Better analyze power and use it in a rational manner. I prefer the power to make my own choices - within human rights rules.

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