Why Power is Abused and How We Can Use It for Good

ACF Type: wysiwyg

The abuse of power is all but inevitable unless there are systems of accountability that prevent it. When we treat power as a collective responsibility, however, power becomes a way for us to correct harmful dynamics.

Creating a Safer Community

Power is complicated, but there are simple ways of thinking about it that can help you recognize and correct abuses of power in your relationships and your community. In this talk, Voices team member Evan Townsend presents the work of Professor Julie Battilana using examples from the contexts of the Friends and Workers.


Ideas on Power from the Community

Voices asked members of the fellowship and others what idea they think it’s most important for others to know. Many of them mentioned accountability:
  • “Power abuse is inevitable unless we have accountability. Trust and good intentions are not enough to stop power abuse.”
  • “Accountability — the ability to remove someone in power — is vital to any safe church policy.”
  • “Accountability is key for anyone in a place of power and responsibility.”
Here’s what some of the others had to say:
  • “We each have freedom to choose, even though all of our options may be hard. We have to choose our ‘hard.’”
  • “We are significantly more powerful than we realize, especially when we work together to reach a common goal. One of the core strategies that abusers (or abusive systems) use to maintain control is to separate us from one another because they know that if we were to join together, our collective power would far outweigh theirs.”
  • “We do not need our abuser’s blessing to exert our own power.”
  • “Workers are not the only ones with power. They should lead Friends down a path that is safe for our fellowship, but if they will not, the Friends have the power to lead them down that safer path.”