Power and Love

Kahane has spent most of his consultancy since Mont Fleur focusing on dialogue, what he calls “opening,” or even “love.” but he has come to see that power is just as important. he’s been inspired in this view by something Martin Luther King, Jr. said in a speech he delivered just six months before his assassination: “…power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.”

Kahane says an approach based on “opening up” and creating connection is half-right, “but dangerously so.” Power is integral to life, he says. We start with “power-to,” such as the power to have a house and a car and all the appurtenances of the modern lifestyle that enable us to get on with our lives, but insidiously this becomes

“power-over,” because something (and often somebody) has to be exploited to make it possible. that leads us to a complex problem.

the kind of power we need, says Kahane, is “power-with.” this kind of power, which King said is nothing more than “the ability to achieve purpose,” applies force and influence but with a vigilant awareness of its effect on others and how their power will manifest. We need to “act with connection,” Kahane says. “We don’t have a choice between power and love. We have to do both.”

Doing that is not straightforward, though; it involves feeling and listening as much as thinking and talking. Kahane feels that something the late chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said captures this spirit perfectly: “We need to cross the stream by feeling for stones.” he also likes to quote trevor Manuel, the first black min- ister of finance in South africa, who said about the country’s great transition, “there was no paradigm, no precedent, nothing. We had to carve it, and so perhaps we were more willing to listen.”

–  Barry Boyce

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