The world, as we know it, is full of Power.
Power can be divided into three types according to Quaker, peace activist and economist Kenneth Boulding.
Coercive Power, also known as Threat Force, is based on fear and has the Power to destroy. This has massive limitations and can be very destructive.
Exchange Power, based on barter, which is how the economy works, producing and exchanging goods, this depends on the changing distribution of property ownership.
Integrative Power, which is based on respect and amplified by humility. Integrative Power is the basis of Non Violence as Gandhi taught it.
Integrative Power can be articulated as “I will take positive action to represent the truth as I see it, and I have faith that in the process, we will draw closer in our relationship.” Bringing people together in a mutually beneficial way is Power.
According to these concepts, all forms have positive and negative attributes. As Boulder says you cannot pay a tree to fall, you must destroy it. A surgeon must destroy a tumour; this too is a form of Power.
Integrative Power calls on each person to follow what they believe is the truth, maintaining an open mind, trusting this interaction will produce a result that is mutually respectful of all parties’ human needs and dignity. Boulder maintains this is the hardest form of Power to define yet is the most significant. Sounds ideal. So how might this serve the human species?
Abraham Maslow, psychologist, theorist and creator of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states;
“Once our survival is ensured our next most pressing agenda as human beings is to belong, to love and be respected”
“The most fundamental aspect of our biological origins is our social nature. Human beings require more than simple familiarity in order to feel ‘comfortable’ with one another and accepted in a deeply meaningful social group. They require a sense of shared social goals…”
Our need for belonging thus cannot be satisfied simply by being in the presence of other people. We must share past experiences and have collective visions of the future. Our relationship must have continuity over time and depth of connectedness. On this basis, we build a shared social fabric.
Wow, social media is more than face value right? It serves a biological need.
So social storytelling, sharing, mutual experiences and integrative Power can be said to be essential elements to our feeling of meaning and quality of life. You can take the fancy car, the big bank account, but if you lack these essentials, life can feel dreary and unfulfilling. Likewise, you may be of the most humble material means, but if you have these essentials, your life is full and rich with meaning. Ashrams can be an example of this or tight-knit family groups.
Boulding’s book available here
People rebel when they feel they are not being included, but being coerced into action. You may have seen some of this play out on social media lately. When economic Power is out of balance, it can play a destructive role in basic human rights. Another insight we have seen manifest into reality in many lives across the globe.
It is more important than ever we give our attention to scaffolding integrative power along with social interactions.
In-person interaction is complicated right now; our socialisation is at risk right now with COVID19.
Online interaction may be more important than ever, and technology truly is our friend for connectivity.
Our need to connect is biological and fundamental to our evolution, humanity is beautiful, and the preservation of joy within our species deserves our care.
Written by Kirsten Macdonald
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