How We Can Counteract the Corrupting Influence of Power

Barack Obama seems to have both his feet on the ground but what about the rest of us? Because our cultures and their institutions have a disturbing tendency to define us and life in negative, often frightening terms, terms like “consumer, citizen, employee, lower class, middle class, upper class, worker, God’s children, basically bad, can’t trust ourselves, survival of the fittest, accident of nature, dog eat dog, devil take the hindmost, kill or be killed, eat or be eaten; sit down, shut up and do as I tell you because I know what’s best for you”, we have a tendency to worship authority, to depend on it to think for us instead of thinking for ourselves. This environment of fear and oppression produces many among us who love to foster dependence because it makes them feel like someone special and promises them a steady stream of customers, clients, constituents, fans and gun fodder for military operations.

By accepting the disempowering influence of a negative belief system, we set ourselves up for hero worship and dependency on dynamic leaders. Hitler’s Germany had its Brown Shirts; Maoist China, its Red Guard; and the Middle East, its Al-Queda and Taliban. And when great power is concentrated in one person or group, there is danger it will unbalance them and lead to abuse. Quote from Lord Acton in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Just as we have business, military, religious and political leaders who become drunk from the influence of money, power and privilege (money, power and privilege junkies), the public can become blinded and corrupted by mental laziness and hero worship. The corrupting influence of money, power and privilege affects us all and the only way to disarm it is to be aware of its corrupting influence, and develop ways to counteract it. Under the bright light of adoration it’s hard for anyone to think clearly, even someone as clear, balanced and loving as Barack Obama. We need to be aware of this and refrain from pressuring him for personal gain.


We can start by asking ourselves what’s going to work best for ALL of us, instead of what’s going to work best for ME. We can refrain from trying to corrupt one another with the promise of money, power and privilege. That makes us no better than the drug dealer hanging around the school grounds handing out free bags of cocaine, knowing how addictive it is. Once hooked, addicts will do almost anything for a fix and drug dealers know it. Wealthy and famous individuals, businesses and organizations know this as well, only their drug of influence is the promise of money, power and privilege.

Few of us have the clarity of mind, strength, wisdom or power to resist temptation when it’s closely associated with feelings of pleasure and survival, especially if we’re overly busy or buy into the belief that we’re basically bad and can’t trust ourselves. Ideas like these, if we choose to believe them, effectively disarm us. It’s time to understand we create our reality from the ideas we choose to believe. We are not bad, it is our ideas about who we are, what reality is and what the purpose of life is that can make us do bad things. It’s time to question the ideas we base our actions on because, how we define ourselves and the world around us forms our intent, which in turn, forms our reality.

Barack Obama  promises to be a great leader but he needs us to take responsibility for our part in changing the world for the better. Part of that responsibility is to give him room to be himself, while we focus on becoming the next best version of who we can be. Change for the better? Yes, we can!


Pete –

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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