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Notions about power get bandied about freely and recycled in an uncritical way. Ideas freely in circulation often become aphorisms that are as limiting, not to say as damaging, as the events they tend to explain or excuse. When someone uses a term like, ‘It’s a power thing’, or ‘Power corrupts’.. they are not providing a useful summary, they are telling you that they haven’t thought it through and are not likely to.

These are abstract generalisations which, in passing for pearls of wisdom, go unchecked and unquestioned. Power is an inherent factor in every relationship. Where there is a relationship there is power and were there is power there is a relationship. If someone is being made to suffer or harmed as a result of someone else’s actions, intentional or otherwise, it is wrong and should be stopped. Hiding behind the ‘Power thing’ label is an excuse not to intervene and therefore a cop-out. Next time you hear the phrase ‘Its a power thing…’ try asking ‘Given that you say it’s a power thing, how do you think we we could change that?’.

 

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