With great power comes great responsibility

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is perhaps the most extreme example of how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. On February 24, 2022, Vladimir Putin unilaterally started a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, falsely claiming to “de-Nazify” Ukraine, and thus sparking the worst conflict on the continent since World War 2. After 15 months, the war is still raging and there is no signs Putin is going to retreat, despite heavy losses of human lives and global condemnation.

Vladimir Putin, a war criminal wanted by the International Criminal Court, has amassed immense personal power and created an oppressive and brutal security system that jailed and assassinated domestic opposition figures. Putin is firmly entrenched in absolute power and he basically has free rein to do whatever he wants, including starting an unprovoked and illegal war.

Power can corrupt a person in various ways. When someone gains power, they may begin to feel invincible and act on their impulses without considering the consequences. The feeling of being in control can lead to arrogance, over-confidence and a sense of entitlement. This can cause the person to become less empathetic towards others and more focused on obtaining and retaining their power. 

These perpetrators may also become secretive, manipulative and paranoid about losing their power, resulting in unethical or illegal behavior. Eventually, the power can completely consume their sense of morality and blind them to the impact of their actions on others.

Individuals in positions of authority or influence have a responsibility to use their power for the betterment of society. This idea is especially relevant in today’s world, where we see the impact of unchecked power in politics, business, and other areas of our lives.

Power is often associated with fame, fortune and influence, and those who wield it can seem larger than life. However, the reality is that power comes with a heavy burden of responsibility. Individuals who are given power must use it wisely, or risk causing harm to others and society at large.

Leaders in any field need to be aware of their impact on others. When they take on a position of power, they are making a commitment to serve others and ensure their actions benefit the wider community. They have to take the long-term impact of their decisions into account, not just the immediate benefits.

In politics, politicians are responsible for governing in the best interests of their constituents, putting the needs of the people ahead of their own personal gain or political ambition. They have to collaborate across party lines to find solutions to complex problems, rather than engaging in divisive rhetoric and policies that harm vulnerable communities.

In the business world, chief executive officers have a responsibility to consider how their decisions impact not only their shareholders but also their employees and society as a whole. This means being transparent about business practices, ensuring fair wages and working conditions, and taking steps to minimize the impact of the business on the environment.

The media also has great power and therefore a great responsibility. The media has the power to shape public opinion and influence policy decisions. This means journalists must hold themselves accountable to high standards of accuracy and objectivity, and resist the temptation to be partisan and sensationalize stories for the sake of clicks or views. They must also be willing to provide a diverse range of perspectives, rather than succumbing to any particular bias.

Power is a double-edged sword

As we have seen with the case of dictators and totalitarian regimes around the world, there are high risks associated with having too much power. Individuals in positions of power can become arrogant and self-serving, placing their own interests ahead of those they are supposed to serve. The more power an individual has, the greater their ability to cause harm, whether through corruption, abuse of authority, or outright neglect.

Be that as it may, the responsibility that comes with power is not limited to public figures. We all have some degree of power, whether it be in our personal lives, our workplaces or our communities. We have a responsibility to be aware of our impact on others, and to use our power to promote positive change.  

We can advocate for social justice, volunteer in our communities, or simply being thoughtful and compassionate towards those around us. We may not have the ability to change the world on a grand scale, but we can all make a difference in our own way.

Power is a double-edged sword. Power, on one hand, can be a force for good, allowing individuals to shape the world around them and make positive changes in their communities. On the other hand, it has the potential to corrupt individuals and lead them down a path of self-serving behavior.

Therefore, it is important for those in positions of power to recognize the risks associated with their positions and take proactive steps to prevent themselves from being corrupted.

In short, with great power comes great responsibility. Those who hold power must be aware of the impact their actions have on society and use their influence to promote the greater good, rather than their own selfish interests. 

Whether in business, politics, or our personal lives, we all have the power to make a positive difference. It is up to us to use that power responsibly and strive to create a fairer, more equitable world for all.

Photo credit: Pexels/ Markus Spiske

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