Fear v. Respect, Force v. Power
08-02-2006, 12:27 PM
Fear v. Respect, Force v. Power
These comments by Robert Barkley first appeared on the Mn Alliance of Peacemakers list.
Note from Lydia:
Living in the country that has the mightiest military on Earth and a
"news"media and entertainment culture that constantly propogates
violence, domination and punishment as the solution to almost all
problems--foreign and domestic, I think Robert Barkley's observations are relevent to the crisis being faced in North MInneapolis, with young African-American men caught up in violence.
I'd simply add another component: for many years, I've felt that too
many people mistake creating fear in others with inspiring them to
respect you. They are NOT the same thing. I FEAR police officers--but, RARELY RESPECT them. Unfortunately, I think many young Black men have also conflated fear and respect, subsequently leaping to violent reactions when they feal disrespected by someone (and it seems to take very very little to feel disrespected). Stating the obvious, the dominant, white supreacist culture (and its many institutional
representatives) definitely disrespect Black people daily, singling out
their harshest form for Black males. In large measure, it seems
intuitively true that much of the violence happening right now is young Black men DISPLACING legitamate anger about society's disrespect onto other young Black men--which is why it often seems to take very little 'provacaton" to feel disrespected. There are many other ways to deal with this (whole social movements were born of and susatained by resistance to white supreamcist disrespect of people of color).Yet, if one has conflated creating fear with inspiring resepct and doesn't see the difference bewtween power and force, then, it seems very UNlikely one will choose healthy presonal respsonses--much less social movements for revolutionary change. Robert Barkley's observations below.
Thoughts on Power v. Force
by Robert Barkley
Power vs.. Force: The tension between power and force is great and often misunderstood. Much of the problem here is the western world’s—or at least its current leader’s—understanding of the differences between power and force. And when it comes to which of these two dynamics will win in the long-term, power will eat force for lunch.
Power is about influence, persuasion, example, compassion, civility,
modeling, pacifism, peacefulness, humility, and is intrinsic by nature;
it is a ‘pull’ action.
Force is about bullying, brashness, greed, militarism, war, arrogance, hubris, brutishness, and is extrinsic by nature; it is a ‘push’ action. Today, people who revere force are leading America.
Gandhi, M. L. King, Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Reinhold Niehbuhr, and
Jesus exemplify power. Its essence is in ideas rather than things, and it is transmitted through words, serenity, calmness, and trust. Use of this model generates eager followers rather than reluctant servants.
King George III, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, bin Ladin, Saddam, Caesar,
Herod, and, some would argue to an increasing extent the current US and British leadership, exemplify force. It is transmitted through fear, intimidation, coercion, dishonesty, and violence. It generates obedience and subservience rather than voluntary and enthusiastic acceptance.
The world has had its share of force, but force has never sustained a society in the way that power has. It will always take the power of some new and more reasoned influence to rectify the damage done by the wrong-headedness of using force.
A friend has offered that today, “We have at work a strange version of the force/power distinction that operates as if force is the measure of power. Those holding this belief think that a bigger force will inevitably win, and they dread that others will conquer them if they
don’t achieve total domination first. The only thing that can be won in such a paradigm is more control. And to maintain such control requires an ever-increasing ruthlessness and creates a world that responds only to force – a world that is driven by extrinsic reward or consequences rather than by an intrinsic sense of hope and of true community.” A study of history—Rome, Hitler, Napoleon, on and on, take your pick—shows that force is always trumped and is never sustainable long term.
We must guide our nation to the use of power and to avoiding a reliance on force. Ultimately, particularly in the long term, all models based upon force will fail.
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