Sunday, December 19, 2004

Power Company

"Power is the capacity to participate in creative controversy. Power is the ability to make one's self heard, the capacity to cause others to take one's concern seriously. . . . It is also the capacity to listen. It is the capacity to respond creatively to others, to the needs of others. In all these dimensions, power engenders conflict."

-- JAMES LUTHER ADAMS (1901-1994)

In the latest issue of UU World, I came upon this quote -- a worthwhile meditation that helps me find my center of power amidst the conflicting demands of community.

The issue is filled with reflections on power. From a personal essay by Rob Eller-Isaacs comes this: "Power born of the proximity of opposing forces [is] the power that engenders depth and makes transformation possible.... Think about electrical power. Electricity is generated when opposite magnetic poles come into proximity. If kept too far apart there is no power, no energy, no charge. The world is shaped by those most willing to engage."

Also in this issue, Harvard/ Kennedy School Professor Joseph Nye speaks about the need to use both the soft power of seduction and the hard power of coercion. That's refreshing talk in a community traditionally dominated by pacifists.

I'm sitting here thinking about different manifestations of soft and hard power -- in international, corporate, and social communities. Perhaps a good topic for later. I can never get to sleep if I get thinking and writing at this hour.

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