This morning I listened to Emily Mellott pastor of the Calvary Episcopal Church in Lombard, IL talk about using one’s power. She noted how she doesn’t feel particularly powerful. Yet that doesn’t mean we don’t have power.
There are different kinds of power. There is the power of a smile or a kind word. There is the power to lead a movement or make big decisions about money, policy or life and death. There are lots of in between powers. And there really are times when a smile or a kind word can be truly transformational. Words may not lead to death as obviously as bullets, but they can do so. They can do so in the accumulated hurts that lead a person to see no other way out. They can do so in the actions that order troops to battle. Similarly, there are words for peace and love that can save lives both from physical death and from deep pain and misery.
As I was listening to Emily, I agreed that I don’t feel particularly powerful in my ability to change the world right this minute. Yet I am working on that. I am working on a PhD in a social justice program in order to better understand how to use my voice for change. I am writing this very blog in order to use my voice to reach even one person. I attend and present my academic work at conferences to share my message of change. It really doesn’t seem like much. It is hard to see the impact. And it is a continual work in progress. I also try to approach all interactions with a sense of deep compassion. I assume benevolence as much and as thoroughly as I can. Yet I try to be fully aware of brutality.
I see my colleagues, especially my fellow PhD students as having a dramatic, positive and truly transformational impact on the world as social workers, preachers, healthcare providers, artists, writers, educators, activists and so much more. I long to emulate the far-reaching influence of their compassion, generosity, love. They have figured out how to unleash their power and continue to expand their projects toward this end.
While I don’t feel like I suddenly have the answer, I do not plan to wait for such inspiration. My goal is to spend the next week looking at each day, planning and recording one way in which I used my power that day. I hope that this will reveal some insight for me. And for that one person who I might reach someday by having written this, I ask: How do you use your power?