When you hear or think of the term, “abuse of power” our minds often go to political leaders who were or are known as dictators; the heads of business and industry that were or are known for their ruthlessness in pursuit of success and material gain; wealthy persons who use that wealth and power to create the world in their own image and treat those of lesser standing with disdain; or even to our immediate bosses who feel the title and position they carry permits them to “lord” over us unfairly. “Abuse of power” means so much more than that and can apply to anyone, of any standing in any area of life.
Although many would deny it, we all have “power”. We have the power to choose and the will to survive (a very potent power in and of itself) but in the course of our daily lives we also have positions of responsibility where personal power exists. For example, as a parent we can choose to use or abuse that position for the benefit or detriment of our children. The same goes if you are a pet owner. How many times have we seen people take on the responsibility of either having children or pets and treat them badly, for whatever reason? To me, that’s an abuse of power.
Christians have the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Those of the Wiccan faith have our One Law, “And ye harm none, do what thou wilt.” (Yes, that is how it was written way back when.) Both of these are telling us that we have a personal power that can be used or abused. There are no loopholes, no fine print that makes exceptions. Both are saying quite clearly that harming another is just wrong and, in the case of Wicca’s One Law, that ‘not harming anyone’ includes yourself.
Abuse of power can be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual and can include intimidation, threats, humiliation, domination, possessiveness, and more. Its varying degrees are sometimes not easily recognized, at times, even by the person or persons being abused. “That’s just the way it is.” is a common comment or thought by those who have yet to recognize the abuse being done to them.
It is here I want to speak, in particular, about what this means to those who are sincere spiritual seekers and most especially the practitioners and followers of Wicca. Although the primary reasons for following this path is a spiritual one, many are drawn to the path because of the perks offered by the “magick” Wiccans learn to perform and some come because they want the title that comes to its leaders – High Priestess or High Priest. There is both a great deal of responsibility and power in all that is offered in Wicca.
Any spiritual leader has a great deal of power granted to them by their position that can be used for the good of their followers/congregation or just as easily abused to satisfy an ego need within them for self-aggrandizement and the rush that power over others can bring. In Wicca especially, it is the duty and responsibility of a leader to encourage self-discovery, self-understanding and self-empowerment. There is a tenet of Trust that is believed in and practiced. Those who are sincere seekers come to learn and spiritually progress. They trust that the person or persons they have come to will teach and guide them in their quest. When this trust is broken, we have broken the One Law and an abuse of power has taken place.
Even more importantly, for each individual follower of Wicca, who is drawn to the magick, that One Law becomes a guide to what type of magick is used and why it is used. It is here we come to the word “intent” that I have discussed before. I repeat, “And ye harm none, do what thou wilt.” Whipping out spells to manipulate and harm people to prove your superiority is wrong. If you intend to get even because someone has wronged you, in your opinion, then you are abusing power and the ability granted to you.
With power comes responsibility and the more power, the more responsibility. Even though the saying goes, “Ultimate power ultimately corrupts.” it doesn’t have to be that way. It only takes our desire and intent to work for the good of all to use our personal power, and any other power we have been granted, to create a better world, or at least better circumstances, for ourselves and others.
Why then is the abuse of power so prevalent? The best way I can explain it is that our egos are needy – some more than others. I have said many times that we were raised backward. We are taught to believe we are solely physical beings who occasionally have a spiritual/religious experience when, in fact we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. Because of our training many of us feel “lacking”. Power over others can make one feel ‘in control’ and give a false feeling of satisfaction for a while. It doesn’t last though because it is false. Then, more money, possessions, power over others, etc. is needed to feel that satisfaction again. The hamster wheel just keeps on turning.
When we have a firm foundation in the spiritual, less is more. We have no need for excessive possession, money or control/power over others and we feel no need to abuse any power placed in our hands. As a matter of fact, we are most eager to see others be empowered and are willing to help in any way possible.
So what can we do about all the abuses of power that go on around us? In reality, we can’t change other people. We can only transform and control ourselves. But ya know what? That does ripple out and have an effect. If enough of us would be willing to do that much – become aware of our own use of power and strive to use it constructively, no matter how great or small it may be – then we would see our world changing. First, close to us and then globally. How amazing would that be? We are just that powerful. Believe it. It’s the Truth.