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Saturday, August 30, 2008

power

"Power unchecked leads to moral tyranny."
William Blake, as quoted by Tracy Chevalier in Burning Bright


This statement, that I just read from the aforementioned novel, had me sit up, alert. It stirred up the political in me. I remember reading from George Orwell's Why I Write, saying that one of the four reasons why writers do what they do, is because of their political opinion. By political he did not mean necessarily partisan or political revolutionary, nor dissension of any kind. But he meant that all writers are political in their opinion, always taking a point of view, or the other point of view, or preferring to stand in the middle - that being in itself a point of view.

I am definitely political in Orwell's sense of the word. I respect democracy and the justice it represents. I abhor elitism and present-day aristocracies, disguised in forms that may no longer be recognisable. Working on closing the income gap is close to my heart, which is why I choose to work with the poor and serve them, for them to achieve their hierarchy of needs. Power should be checked by justice and the ongoing right for others to choose. I desire principle and character over the economical and the material. Tempting man with the material makes him selfish, inspiring him with your character makes him emulate your principles and follow you. All these statements of belief apply between people anywhere and everywhere: in business relationships, in our leadership of others, in our acquaintances with people, in our extended families, in our friendships. It doesn't even have to relate to the government. Being political can really mean nothing in one's take on partisan politics.

Which is why even though I just like to write a lot here, a political statement like Blake's, really made me sit up. It made me take out my pen. It made my heart beat faster. It made me think about the crazies in the French Revolution and how the people must have felt, both the royal family and the commoners alike. No one should be killing or imprisoning anyone just because they represent an ethos or an echelon of society abhorred. It would be similar to the Myanmar government house-arresting Aung San Suu Kyi simply because she stood for democracy, or the jihad-ists killing themselves and others along it simply because they needed to make an anti-American point to the world. Power unchecked leads to moral tyranny. Be it whether the power is held by the ruling party, the people, or terrorists. It is all one and the same.