Love and Power: can we have both?

POWER. What does it really mean?

I was recently listening to a talk on bravery, in which the view of what Power could be was challenged.

As a woman I often see the word power used as a call to assert our right to be heard. There is a growing movement expecting women to harness and roar with our feminine nature, to be “a “badass” warrior/goddess”; to be fierce and fearless.

These in themselves are empowering viewpoints – and ones I sometimes run with – but are they the only way to be Power-Full?

Is Power JUST about Strength?

Do we have to interpret Power as noise?

Is asserting our Power the only way we can feel in control of our destiny – the only way to feel valid?

Does Power mean we cannot be warm or compassionate?

I don’t believe so.  

Trying to sustain Power, by these definitions, could be exhausting – and damaging.

Love and Power have, ironically, become enemies over time. A divisive battle believing that you must be one, or other, not both. So what if we’ve got that wrong?

The word power means “the ability to DO something”. There is no reference in its meaning to control, influence, dominate, manipulate or swindle. It is simply our energy in action.

Can I, then, Love AND have Power?

Photograph of a Man and Child, taken in Chile Source unknown

Back in the 60’s and 70’s, we saw people uniting under a banner of Love, in the name of Peace. At the same time, many seemed to invite a war against Power, viewing Power as “bad”. Power was – and still is perhaps – seen as a perpetrator; the cause of all our problems.

Today, Power is a synonym for greed, status, tyranny and, essentially, corruption. Power, as with Love, can be abused in the “wrong” hands, and certainly by those not truly awake to the pain they cause.

So what of Love?

A while ago, I spoke of Love as a means to healing – even a form of spiritual activism – starting with self-compassion. I was surprised by a comment describing me as naive, passive and, interestingly, as if I was giving away my Power by suggesting Love is an answer.

Love is associated mainly with softness, gentility and compassion. But today, if we speak of Love as a solution, we can be seen as weak (or “woo-woo”.)

Society has evolved to believe that Power is what we need, and anything else makes us vulnerable. If you read this article about authoritarian leadership, this suggests how Brexit came about and how Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States.  Only time will tell what this sort of Power looks like.

What is needed is the realization that power without Love is reckless and abusive, and that Love without power is sentimental and anaemic. Power at its best is Love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is Love correcting everything that stands against Love. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

People have become distracted by or bought into a 21st Century (mis)interpretation of the word Power, and we are, once again, in a world divided – not just between men and women, or how we vote – but our definitions of what it is to Love and what it means to have Power.

Back in the 70’s, the motivation for World Peace was as relevant then as it is today. But you can’t “fight” for peace. You have to “peace” for peace. Equally we have to rise together in order to be heard, so that none of us is left behind. The power comes with unity, and a collective desire to create space for each of us.

We don’t have to give up our right to Love for Power, or our right to Power when we embrace Love; we can infuse one with the other.

We don’t have to choose between Love or Power; we can have both.

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Copyright Delphi Ellis

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