Powerful or overpowering?

Over the last few weeks we have been bombarded by demonstrations of the human species exerting so-called ‘power’– both good and bad.  It is very easy to feel weighted down by the deluge of negativity and scare-mongering that has occurred during this EU referendum period – both from the In and Out camps.  We have seen the outpouring of grief over the pointless murder of Jo Cox and now the little girl killed by her father with a history of extreme anger.  Threats of increased terrorism, threats of economic disaster, threats of a flood of immigrants we won’t be able to support, threats of the NHS collapsing – either because of increased strain on resources due to immigration, or because we rely on immigration to sustain NHS manpower.  Threats, threats and more threats which in turn spread fear, uncertainty and sometimes hatred, and often outbursts of uncontrollable anger.  Does this make the initiating people  powerful or overpowering

In a calm moment when there is space to reflect, I believe we all have inherent ability to be powerful – but this is something which is within us, not something we force upon others by violence or scare-mongering – which becomes overpowering.  At the heart of all human beings is the desire to love and be loved.  True love is unconditional.   It is not one person exerting their will upon another – that is ‘overpowering’ not powerful.  True power comes from a place of love, compassion and peaceful intention, it is not coercive.  Think Mohandas Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Dalai Lama –  powerful men, but they were not overpowering – they did not use threats or violence.  Nelson Mandela became a man of peace – but could so easily have continued on a journey which included violence – again he became powerful, not overpowering.

To be truly powerful comes from a place of love and peace

Some of the comments I have read in the media over the last few weeks during this referendum period have been really quite personal and nasty and directed at those who do not agree with their own beliefs..  At the end of the day, even after wars have been fought, the only thing that will ultimately solve the problem is dialogue – powerful dialogue, not overpowering dialogue, or dialogue which cultivates fear and confusion.  Dialogue that seeks resolution, motivated not by greed or self-righteousness, but by love.

When we are able to operate from a place of true power, rather than seeking always to overpower, then perhaps the world will be a better place. A good starting point is honest self-reflection about our motives and methods of communicating with each other. Sometimes we need to realise that when we judge another we are, in fact, just holding up a mirror to ourselves.  True power comes from a place of love and compassion.  Anything else is our thoughts and actions motivated by our experiences, which need healing.

“There are many different kinds of power.  True power comes from serving and helping others.  Such behaviour makes people respect you.  They are willing to listen to your views and advice, and they support you.  The energy of many people is thus channelled through one person.  This kind of power is positive and authentic.”

Dalai Lama


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