Issues and answers: Power

Issues and answers: Part 11

Written by: Lee Sonogan


“If we continue to accumulate only power and not wisdom, we will surely destroy ourselves. Our very existence in that distant time requires that we will have changed our institutions and ourselves. How can I dare to guess about humans in the far future? It is, I think, only a matter of natural selection. If we become even slightly more violent, shortsighted, ignorant, and selfish than we are now, almost certainly we will have no future.”
― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

People are capable of many things. But there is so many factors that can cause many negative actions and thoughts. In an environment where we are encouraged to compete with each other, the individual will seek power to gain the advantage over everyone else. We are even influenced to do this everyday though propaganda and other means to keep the power with the individuals who have it. I am speaking of course about the people who have the power to make in impact. Leo Tolstoy said “Power is the sum total of the wills of the mass, transfered by express or tactic agreement to rulers chosen by the masses,”. We the people are mostly unaware of whats going on while the people in positions of power continues to create and maintain their own profit and self ideologically. In the following I will tell you about how power of the few has impacted the world through its irrelevant laws and methods, corruption and war.

Take a glance at the news headlines for any random day, and it’s not hard to develop a cynical attitude towards your fellow human being. The endless reports of thieves, bombers, murderers, bigots, racists, and bullies is enough to make you lose all hope humans are capable of one day living in complete peace and harmony. Are we genetically predisposed towards evil behaviors like selfishness, violence, and cruelty? Or, is it an unfortunate side effect of our society? I belive it is because we have continued struggles of power since forever and we have not created an environment where something else can grow and eliminate the issues all together in peace.

Power can come in many forms. Through money, work, governments, army’s, groups and many other examples. All of these factors can lead to corruption as the opportunity comes up. In the cold war there was plenty of supporting dictatorships, destabilizing democracies and funding the opposition going on. Firms from rich countries bribing rulers and officials from developing countries to gain export contracts, particularly in the arms trade and in construction. The corruption inducing effects of the purchase, by the rich countries and their international corporations, of concessions in Third World countries to exploit natural deposits of oil, copper, gold, diamonds and the like. The drug trade. International law and national laws in rich countries that prohibit drugs may serve to produce a scarcity value irresistible to producers, smugglers and dealers. There thousands more examples of corruption out there

Bribery may be pervasive, but it is difficult to detect. Many Western companies do not dirty their own hands, but instead pay local agents, who get a 10 per cent or so. Until recently, bribery was seen as a normal business practice. Many countries including France, Germany and the UK treated bribes as legitimate business expenses which could be claimed for tax deduction purposes.

The issue of corruption is very much inter-related with other issues. At a global level, the international economic system that has shaped the current form of globalization in the past. It has also created conditions whereby corruption can grow and increase the conditions of people around the world who already have little say about their own lives. At a national level, people’s effective participation and representation in society can be undermined by corruption, while at local levels, corruption can make day-to-day lives more painful for all effected.

A difficult thing to measure or compare, however, is the impact of corruption on poverty versus the effects of inequalities that are structured into law, such as unequal trade agreements, structural adjustment policies, trade agreements and so on. It is easier to see corruption. It is harder to see these other more formal, even legal forms of  corruption. It is easy to assume that these are not even issues because they are part of the laws and institutions that govern national and international communities and many of us will be accustomed to it.

5 ways to counter corruption:

  • Restore some justice to a system in which international creditors play the role of plaintiff, judge and jury, in their own court of international finance.

  • To introduce discipline into sovereign lending and borrowing arrangements and thereby attempting to prevent future crises.

  • To counter corruption in borrowing and lending, by introducing accountability through a free press and greater transparency to civil society in both the creditor and debtor nations.

  • To strengthen local democratic institutions, by empowering them to challenge and influence elites.

  • To encourage greater understanding and economic literacy among citizens, and thereby empower them to question, challenge and hold their elites to account.

“War is not a polite recreation, but the vilest thing in life, and we ought to realize this and not make a game of it… as it stands now it’s the favorite pastime of the idle and frivolous.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

What are the reasons Why We Have Wars? First of we are reluctant to discuss peace issues. People’s thinking is controlled by old ideas that are half-truths. People don’t want to discuss or accept new ideas. The men’s code of honor, “I would rather die than let the other side win.” All the dead people who were killed in wars are not here to vote against another war. People think that by being peaceful themselves, other people will be peaceful. We believe that we don’t have to be concerned. Good people will be elected who will guide us in a bad path. We give respect to nations with the most military power and not to nations or leaders who promote peace. We honor people who kill for political reasons. Too many people prefer revenge to peace and believe that lethal retribution as in capital punishment is justifiable and morally acceptable. People make decisions based on gut feelings rather than on rational thought. People have too much confidence in their elected leaders and too little confidence in their own judgement. People have their ego go tho their head. Some prefer death to a loss of pride. People think that nothing can be done, that it is useless to try to change governments to prevent wars.

In the past hundred years, the United States has sent more than 39 million Americans to fight in wars. More than 631,000 of them have been killed. More than 1,224,000 have been seriously wounded or maimed. Each of these Americans was or is a real person with real values, goals, dreams, loved ones. Each experienced his or her body in some way being violated, impaled, crushed, blown up, or torn apart. The families and friends of each have suffered a kind of pain for which there are no words. General W. T. Sherman famously said “War is hell. But war is worse than hell. war is real, and it destroys people’s lives,”.

Wars can be caused by conflicting moral principles. Wars are caused by a conflict of ideas and wars are the result of ideas in the minds.  Therefore there are two ways, at least, to settle the dispute: Keep discussing the differences until there is an agreement or fight. With all the power mostly leading to the worst in humanity, the average person losses. Our freedoms are limited. When people understand the limitations of freedom, they will not be misled by unrealistic expectations and will be more satisfied, less discontent, with all the rules of civilization. We know that in order for people to live together peacefully, in a civilized manner, many rules are necessary.

“We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws.”
― Hunter S. Thompson

Power can be used to influence in many ways. Blinded from the truths, our laws and methods are full of loopholes and irrelevance. Our conflicts of interest and the power available to people out is ridiculous. Pablo Escobar, is an example of what one person can do to an entire county. Change in the decision-making around the world should be in evidence and science. Just makes me sad that with all the problems in the world, the time, energy and effort could have been used in a more productive and positive way. All problems should be solved with words, not war. With all these thoughts and actions going on, how can we work together for a better world more than we already do? In the next part I will be talking about unity and why we should strive for more, it in all areas.

“Fights between individuals, as well as governments and nations, invariably result from misunderstandings in the broadest interpretation of this term. Misunderstandings are always caused by the inability of appreciating one another’s point of view. This again is due to the ignorance of those concerned, not so much in their own, as in their mutual fields. The peril of a clash is aggravated by a more or less predominant sense of combativeness, posed by every human being. To resist this inherent fighting tendency the best way is to dispel ignorance of the doings of others by a systematic spread of general knowledge. With this object in view, it is most important to aid exchange of thought and intercourse.”
― Nikola Tesla