Power corrupts

in Essays

Corruption has several meanings. We assume when we hear people say that ‘power corrupts’ they mean people have become ill-intentioned or greedy because of the power they’ve amassed. Most often that is exactly what they mean.

But power can do much more than that.

Power can mess with your operating system. It can distort your memory. It can blind you to the needs of others. You won’t understand their sensitivities as well. Perched up in your loft, you can’t hear the cries from the voices on the streets below. Even with the best intentions, power isolates you. It sets you apart.

If they want their lives to have meaning, powerful people have to work harder than anyone else to remain connected to the powerless. It takes much more work to understand vulnerability when you pull the strings. This is what is meant by ‘to whom much is given, much is required.’

With the best intentions, you work to remain connected so you can make the world better. Without good intentions, you’ve become the cliché of corruption.
With power appropriately tuned, people don’t become your subjects. They become the ones you serve.