Why is power most often used to exploit? – This has been a constant nagging question in my mind ever since I visited Peru recently.
Maybe it hit too close to home, you know the one I left a few years ago in search of myself, the one being India.
Peru – a country so rich in heritage, even richer in culture – today it remains known to world as simply a host to all the Machu Picchu tourists. Why?
In many ways, this travel to Peru has been transformative for me. Not only because it really showed me what a little travel can do to change your perspective on life, but also because I found a new dimension of respect for life, the way it was, the way it is, and the way it can be.
The way we live our lives one day defines who we are – and who is it that we want to be remembered as?
The genuineness of the Peruvian people, their true patriotism, loyalty to their origins, it left me feeling astounded, touched. But more importantly, I began to feel even more empathetic to this story – of all people in places, prosperous and self-sustained, their heritage invaded and annihilated by the “powerful ones”, and still done so, even hundreds of years later.
Whether it was the Spaniards in Peru, the British is India a few hundred years ago, or it is the supremacists everywhere today, the commonality that stands out is of the power of power, and the way it has been used, is used.
I’ve had many a sporadic conversations on my feelings about this with close ones, and many would say I’m looking at it from a pessimistic lens. Truth be told, I’m only looking at it from what I am seeing, experiencing. I’ve never been one to take a biased stand, I say it as it is, good or bad. My view on this is drawn from a collective of examples, some more recent than others. So then what I feel with this current state of information is that, more often than not, power has been used to exploit, to coerce, to establish the power of power, of authority and subservience to it. Hence the question I started out with is followed up with a thought – is this all bred in the human psyche of insecurity and the need for validation? (Well this could be the topic of an entire book!)
But today, I’d rather talk about the meaning of this to me – having mulled over this question for days at end now, one of my conversations on this topic made me realize how I want to look at this, or rather what I want to do about it.
The errs of others in the past (recent or not) cannot simply be blamed onto their kin in the present. You can’t undo the past, nor can you erase it. Neither can one person change the world. But one person can change himself/herself.
In the end all you can do is be responsible for your own actions. If only we each hold ourselves accountable for our own behavior, those world changing efforts, wouldn’t seem such huge ordeals after all.
Because the undeniable truth that everyone is so hell bent on denying is – there is enough place for all of us here in our world, for each of our hopes and dreams and ambitions and ideas and cultures and beliefs and I can keep going on. There is so much room to take in, so much more to learn, to explore, to experience even. How can there not be enough room in our human mind, a mind which has no limits to expand? (Unless you’re telling me that the human race is so brashly arrogant that we think we know everything there is to know, in which case, this claim will not surprise me, but will definitely make me rethink my role within my kind.)
This brings me to my final thought on which I’ll close out – there are so many types of people in the world, so many kinds of human, some more genuine than others. And those who are, are usually the ones who have survived adversity (individually or collectively), those who have known loss and exploitation, those who empathize, who dare to care, the ones seen as “less powerful” – my question to you in that case would be – what is the meaning of power to you?
Because all those things to me, are my very definition of power – of knowledge, of survival, of solidarity, of empathy, of peace, of respect, of humanity – power of the greatest kind.
And that is something all we can all learn from the Incan way of life that I learned of when in Peru – to use what your fellow humans before you created, in culture and community, and make it better, take it forward, using the power that is unique to our human specie – power of intellect.
I highly recommend all those who read this post to try and visit Peru, a truly beautiful place, full of stories from the past yet so relevant in today’s world. Just reading about them might change your perspective – I didn’t know why everyone I spoke to before Peru said it would be a life-changing event, until I did. And that is something I hope we all get to experience in our lifetime.