‘Power over’ is the familiar power of politics, in which people try to gain a power advantage over people from other political parties, or even others in their own party. It is also manifested in everyday competition when people compete with each other for status and importance, or study with the aim of having more knowledge as a power advantage over others. The power-over attitude is the base for terms like family politics, club politics, committee politics, and so on.
‘Power from within’ comes from gaining the knowledge, skills and problem-solving ability that we experience as having the self-confidence to face the everyday problems of life. Every time we learn how to do something, it adds to our power from within. Power from within is also strengthened by having a strong sense of connection or belonging to other people and to the environment; knowing that we are loved and respected by those we love and respect.
‘Power with’ is the power of cooperation and collaboration with other people as equals. One example of power with is called ‘people power’, which is gaining strength now because of the widespread use of social media. People are joining together to influence the policy making of politicians and the behaviour of multi-national organisations all over the world.
Power with is also the power of love. When we mix nonviolence with people power we add the power of love to people power because nonviolence is known as ‘love in action’. Mob mentality can be incredibly violent and destructive, but the only thing ‘nonviolent people power’ aims to destroy is injustice. It seeks to reduce inequality to within the range that doesn’t upset the balance between belonging and freedom; or responsibility and freedom.
People who want to experience peace of mind in all interactions with others seek to have power with others as equals rather than power over others, and each movement towards equality strengthens their power from within.
Bob Myers, author of Travelling the Road of Peace and Happiness.