Power: Who Really Has It?

It is a trademark of antiquity to consider ownership as a symbol of power. A symbol of affluence and consequently influence. If you owned a larger herd of cattle or sheep than your neighbor or had more children you were more respected. People listened to you. And today we have the same social hang-up. You’ve glanced at your coworker’s car and noted it’s maker. You’ve seen people on Sunday afternoons pulling a boat to the river or googled at Yachts in a nearby marina or noticed the beautiful and elegant and excessively spacious houses on the rich side of town. We still identify possession with power and success. Rightly so, I believe we should give respect to those who have led a wise life in areas of finance and business. But that those people wield more power and more influence is blatantly wrong.

A country’s geographical boundaries doesn’t establish it’s global influence. Nor the astuteness of it’s economy nor the strength of it’s military. Power is found in the well spring of knowledge, simply put. Whoever is ahead in the knowledge game is ahead in the power game. The ages call for knowledge because with knowledge security comes quickly behind. Quite notably, the islamic state is trying to expand. In an somewhat unrelated but interesting article by Graeme Wood you can see where ISIS is expanding geographically. Islam being a very old religion carries along with it this old idea of power as well. “‘Possessing’ land (or anything) equals power.” It is almost comical- this notion. If you own a land filled with oil but don’t know that it’s there or how to extract it who has the power? You, or the one who knows if it’s there and how to extract it? Obviously you would have to rely on the one with the expertise and thus placing yourself at their mercy. Take this little example and expand it to almost any situation and you will find the same result. Those with power are those with knowledge.

You need only to look to the Industrial Revolution’s innovations in transportation and communication and production that made France and Belgium and Britain and Germany and the U.S.A. the most powerful and internationally influential countries throughout the next two centuries. Because of the nature of knowledge we must build our study upon what we already know and we owe it to men like Thomas Newcomen who developed the steam engine and James Watt who adapted it so that it could be used on other machinery and many others who contributed to innovation and knowledge in the 17th and 18th centuries. One thing you will not hear about these men in a lecture is how much land and how many horses and changes of clothing they had. But you do hear about their works of genius that gave us a steam engine of multiple uses and a blueprint for future thought and creation.

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