meaningofstrife

Seeing the best in life's challenges

Paradigms and People Power

on March 4, 2014

Let’s talk about Powerful People.  We might describe them as those who are focused, determined, have strong ideas, and make things happen.  They may or may not hold a Position of Power.  When I think of a Powerful Person, I think it is more an internal energy kind of thing.  You can feel that the person is powerful.  I think it’s an interesting thing to think about. 

I know powerful people.  They can be intimidating.  They are a force to be reckoned with.  They tend to get respect. 

Power is something that expresses very differently in the Old Paradigm than in the New.  We are all familiar with how Power has been expressed in the past, and it hasn’t always been so “good.”

In the Old Paradigm, the approach to Power could be summarized as Might Makes
Right.  A powerful leader would determine the rules of engagement and enforce this way of being.  HOPEFULLY, if the surrounding people were lucky, these rules were fair and compassionate, so that life would be pleasant for everyone.  Unfortunately, we are all aware that this has not always been the case.

In the Old Paradigm, the “Powers That Be” could be the most loving and compassionate individuals, but as long as the paradigm is about “right” vs. “wrong,” there are still “haves” and “have-nots.”   There’s a pecking order and some have privilege and some do not.  Who has privilege and who doesn’t might change over time, but it’s the same old story.

And there’s another dynamic with Power that goes along with the Old Paradigm.  A Powerful Person who wants to do “the right thing” and who really cares, will of course not want to be “wrong” or seen as “wrong.”  This Power wants to be on the side of the Good.  Those who lift up the Power and encourage the Power and reinforce the Power will make the Power feel it is doing “the right thing.”  Those who present a different perspective, or point out pitfalls, will make the Power feel “wrong” even if that is not the intent.  (Thus the joke of Not Killing the Messenger.)  Under the ground rules of the Paradigm, it HAS to be one or the other, right?  Friend or Foe.

So Powerful People operating under the Old Paradigm tend to become surrounded with “yes people.”  They tend not to be open to differing perspectives, unless they really work hard to be open to them.  Even if they are open to other perspectives, those who surround Power will tend to block out “the other side.”  Nothing brings people together like a common enemy.

Which brings me to the New Paradigm. 

If we truly make the transition to a Paradigm that doesn’t need to see things in terms of “good” and “bad,” “right” and “wrong,” Power no longer feels vulnerable to attack.  Power does not have to be defensive.  Power is only about Love and Compassion and maximizing Joy.  It is no longer about Controlling everything to ensure that it’s Right.  It’s all about being Open.  It’s Safe.

Power in the New Paradigm is a whole different animal.  It is self-sufficient and does not need approval.  It is more likely to exist in all kinds of places and situations, because it does not need external support.  It comes from within.  It does not impose its will on others.  So there is no need for Others to fear this kind of Power. 

This kind of Power makes no sense in the Old Paradigm. 

Jesus was trying to get us familiar with this new kind of Power.  Love is patient and kind.  Love your neighbor.  Love your enemies.  Things that made no sense to The World and seemed backwards.

The Reverend Martin Luther King embraced this kind of power. 

IF you believe, as I do, that we are in a transition phase from Old to New, you might agree that it is a HUGE challenge to know how to handle Power these days. 

We can recognize a powerful person just by their presence, but under what terms of engagement are they operating?  This is important to figure out, because the two kinds of Power operate very differently.

Old Paradigm Power will get defensive or dismissive when presented with an opposing view.  It will isolate itself, surrounding itself only with others who are similar and have similar views.  It will identify enemies.  Its priority will be to be Right.  When threatened or questioned, it will attack.

New Paradigm Power will be very solid in its core, but will not impose itself on others.  Its priority is to understand, rather than to be right.  It will seek outside information, in order to gain as much understanding as possible.  But it will rely on its own discernment to decide how to proceed. 

Old Paradigm energy includes the energies of fear, guilt, shame, worthlessness, competition, anger, pain, revenge, helplessness.  It’s priority is to survive and maintain itself.  It has unresolved issues.

New Paradigm energy is loving, compassionate, kind, patient, allowing, affirming, including, healing.  It is more powerful, yet secure.  It is open and expansive, but not vulnerable.  It is whole and complete, yet humble.  It is balanced.

One can still feel intimidated by New Paradigm Power, because we are so used to the Old kind of Power, and we assume that any Power has to be intimidating.  That’s all we’ve known.  Jesus was extremely powerful, yet loving – and we know how negatively some reacted to Him.  MLK as well, was hated despite the fact that he was working for equality in a non-violent way.

Working with Power is even more complicated, because, realistically, most individuals are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between Old and New.  (That’s why I label it a Transition.)

But at least we have come a long way since biblical times, and even in the last 50 years.

For me, it’s useful to look at this issue conceptually, because if I understand the overall picture of Power and how it is used and how its use is changing, I can better understand the world and my interactions with others.

And it’s important to say that I share my perspective in the spirit of the New Paradigm – not because I’m “right” (Old Paradigm) but because I am curious, interested in building connections and discussion, and am in the process of working on embracing my own Power in the spirit of Jesus and others who inspire us to lift ourselves beyond the chains of fear and control and oppression. 

This is my new way of seeing the world.  I have found a lot of others who have similar perspectives, and we are working this frontier together.  None of us have it all figured out completely, but we are working on that.  We share, we discuss, we ponder, we wonder…..all without making anyone “wrong.” 

And the more I read, the more people I find working the same puzzle, the more I integrate this into my being, the more I am convinced that not only is this transition possible, not only is it happening, but it is already too far gone to go back. 

But I could be “wrong.”  

(I hope you know that was a joke LOL)

Screen shot 2014-03-04 at 12.38.45 PM


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