Paul Kane, “Mount St Helens Erupting at Night”
“Business has defeated everything in its path. Its last enemies are the oldest: it is still defied by the ancient Gods of blood revenge, territorial tribalism and the strangely recurrent death struggles between genders, as well as by the untamed divinities of nature – the oceans, the deserts, the magma at the earth’s core and the powers of storm and rain. They alone remain to affront and disrupt the power of business.”
James Hillman, “Kinds of Power”
Before I started reading James Hillman’s Kinds of Power I tried to ponder and intuit what power means for me. For me the most tremendous kind of power is the kind that is born in the darkest core of nature, the pulsating hidden geyser of power we all carry within, whether we are high profile politicians, businesspeople or celebrities or the powerless have-nots, victims of abuse, the discriminated ones. Empowerment is a key issue in our times: victims of glaring imbalances are realizing that power can never be really taken from anyone because it belongs to everyone and no human can claim to be its distributor. The roots of true power are indestructible and accessible to all.
As a society, we may be conditioned by the historical root of the word power, though, which, as Hillman explains, is poti, i.e. “husband, lord, master,” echoed in the word “despote,” which was used by Greek slaves to address their masters. What we need to learn right now as humans is to exercise our power without dominating anyone, without pathological control and oppression. The need for new kinds of power is emerging right now. In Tao te Ching power is thus described: “All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power. If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them. If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them.” But this kind of transcendence of the shadows of power can only happen if imbalances, inequalities and injustices in our world are redressed.