Tag Archives: Power

The Vicious Cycle of Power: The Real Problem in America Right Now

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“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” – John Acton

The killing of innocent lives is never good, whether the lives are lost here or abroad and whoever the victims are, the loss of innocent lives is never good. The killing of innocent lives that distract from fixing the current problem with policing in our communities is even worse. The last thing that we needed to happen were more innocent black men killed and innocent policeman shot in cold blood, and most of America and the world, had to sit and watch. Some wept, some were confused, mystified, and others were mad. I couldn’t help but think about what the continual root cause of the problem.

Whose hands are truly stained with blood? I can give you a little hint, but it’s not just the Police, and it’s definitely not the innocent people who continue to die simply for the color of their skin.

It’s power. Power corrupts. The duty to protect and serve is a power, and if abused, can be a matter of life or death. Sometimes power corrupts a good police officer. Sometimes it makes a bad police officer worse, but this power is nothing compared to the truly powerful people who aren’t doing anything to fix a broken system. A system that has been broken for years, decades. In fact, it seems to me that they prefer to allow the viscous cycle of power to churn out the same story and it’s getting worse.

Police officers are given a certain of lever of power in their jobs, because they are asked to enforce the law. Crime and violence does occur in many urban communities across the country, and the law needs to be enforced. But power corrupts. We all see this in any workplace where bad managers and directors mistreat employees simply because they can.

Often times, people of color experience this “power” of the law by the hand of police, when police are simply doing their job. Whether it’s because they are getting evicted, parents are being arrested for petty or serious crimes or kids are being removed from their home because of abuse or neglect. Other times they experience this “power” so unjustly by being racially profiled for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Rarely are any of these interactions positive.

So if Police are given the power to monitor communities, and are often above reproach, what about the ones who are corrupted by power? That is why we see police brutality. Daniel Holtzclaw, the Oklahoma City police officer, who was sentenced to 263 years in prison for raping women of color abused the power of his badge.

I am saying the blame on the police and the violence/crime in these communities of color, at times, is unfair, because the system has been built to create vulnerable citizens, first, who then have to live and die by the hands of ill-trained and sometimes underfunded police departments.

The famous quote by Thomas Moore says it best:

“For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.”

The lack of good education, the inability to make a decent wage or to find gainful employment (convicted felons), you cannot help but expect some people to turn to crime. These actions stem from the difficulty to reach the “American Dream”. We then ask police officers to enforce laws against those who have been rejected and hurt by the system.  And now, many police departments have lowered their standards for police officers to ensure that they have enough officers on the force. Thus creating a problem of police officers who are too young and ill-trained. Seems to me that the police and the people in the communities of color are stuck in a deadly hamster reel.

The logical next step is to think who gives the power of the law. The police do not give this power to themselves. And more over, who has the power to improve the minimum wage, improve our educational system or the justice system and to create better programs for our convicted felons.

Politicians. Elected officials. “Leaders”.

America has stacked the cards against the most vulnerable, and asked police officers to enforce the laws against them, no matter the cost. We know that the prison system in this country is a billion dollar industry. This is not a conspiracy. This is the reality of the cycle of power that we have allowed to take place. When they talk about making America “great” again, we will never be able to move forward as nation, if we continue down this road.

So what can be done? Pay attention to what’s going on in your community, and not just the Presidential election. Who are your local politicians, what’s going on in state and local politics, who serves on your school boards and are you paying attention to where the money is going? We must hold them accountable. Like actually, pay attention and hold them accountable. People with the time and/or the aptitude to do something, must act. We cannot expect our most vulnerable to have the time or the capacity to fight.

So am I saying it is our responsibility to do something?

Yes I am.

We are not talking about giving handouts or throwing money at a problem. I am talking about making sure our laws are just, and the people that we elect into our offices have our best interests in mind. People like to joke that the Founding Fathers were slave owners among other things, but there are positive legacies that they left behind. They created a system of laws and separation of powers, and a place for people to be heard. But we are not using our voices effectively. Especially those who are in a position to do more. Because we must remember, the difference between ourselves and the most vulnerable, is that we were just dealt different cards. We should be thankful, and make a difference in their lives.

M/P

To Err is Human… And We Can’t Get Enough of it

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“Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying.” – Martin Luther

This is not another blog post about politics, I promise, but I am kicking off with Hillary. Yes, Hillary Clinton, you tired of her too? Me, three times a million, but it’s not her fault. As I read another story, commentary, or opinion about Hillary Clinton running or maybe not running for office, I think my mind might explode. There are a number of commentaries that discuss whether her heart is in it anymore. Either way, I don’t care. Her eventual campaign is the same reason millennials are increasingly less and less likely to be interested in the political system or are aware of the current state of affairs.The pursuit of power is her motivation. It’s at her fingertips, and even though she may fail, right now that pursuit is stronger than the fear of failure.  Do they really expect us to believe that she is the best candidate in 2016? Maybe at some point she was, if she’s your cup of tea, but she’s out of date. She and Bill have made mistakes, but no one is listening. It’s not quite the same as Mitt Romney, because she is at least married to Bill. The Republicans love to hate that democrat less than President Obama.

But If she were to do an evaluation of herself and those surrounding her did too, she is not the best candidate, and that doesn’t matter to her or her team, cause its all about the pursuit of power. I know there are plenty of people who would disagree with me.  And this opinion has nothing to do with partisan politics. I think there are other democrats that could do better and I think there are Republicans that could do better.  But this story isn’t unique to good ole Hilary, and there are further implications that are important to our generation and those that follow us.

As we teach our young kids to work hard and reach for their dreams, there is this thing that is called failure, that’s not really failure. But it comes with being successful and smart. Is that you can’t always be a winner or the winner, but you’re not really a loser. You can not always lead, or be in control. Your time is not all the time. Now many would say that Hillary hasn’t had her time to shine and has been in the shadow of Bill. But she won her own senate elections and was selected as the Secretary of State. She is NOT chump change. If she never becomes President, that doesn’t make her a failure. What’s a bigger problem, is having people who entered the political scene 40 years ago still attempting to lead this country.

Why am I pointing this out? It’s easy for Americans and citizens across the globe to recognize politicians often serve too long, such as the soon to be Congressional retiree, Barbara Mikulski, or there are political families who shuffle in and out of power. But the reality, this is not just in politics, its also in another, probably more important institution, religion.

Although some humans can resist the temptation of power, it can trap even the most pious. So why do we have people serve in positions that are surrounded by money, power and fame for so long and then act surprised when a scandal comes out, or more foolishly, believe that they are some how incapable of making mistakes, or acting inappropriately. For politicians,  it’s easy to notice the slow contamination from when they enter the political world, fresh faced and full of optimism to the point when they are tainted; mostly bought and paid for by billionaires. We get it. But let me ask again, what about leaders in our churches, temples, mosques or religious leaders who fall into the exact same or similar trap.

I ask this, because the studies show that millennials are affiliating less and less with a religion.  “In 2012, Pew Research Center released data showing that 32 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 are religiously unaffiliated. This was an 11 percent increase over any other age group that year, and a 7 percent jump from the 25 percent of young people who responded this way in 2007” (source) 

Now we know that religion is flawed, because it is made by humans, so there is no expectation that it should be perfect. But there is also evidence that despite churches (specifically christian) are failing at an unbelievable rate, researchers are seeing “churches planted at a rapid rate….. It’s a transition from an outdated model to one that’s hopefully working better”  (Source) . So it’s not that the people don’t want to try something, which is supported by the fact that although there is a decrease in millennials affiliating with a “religion”, the latest Pew survey from 2014, states that “86 percent (of Millennials) still profess belief in God” (source) 

So then why are Millenmials running from religion? Because it’s being run by like many other institutions. Instead of being a shining light, we are falling for the same ills: power, greed, and fame. And more than any other institution, those three things make it hard to lead something where humility is kind of the number 1 ingredient in leading a group of believers. I would love to speak to a member in televangelist Creflo Dollar’s congregation. Last week, he created a gofundme account for a new jet, and the fact he still leads a church baffles me. He is one of the many national pastors, who could almost cover T.I.’s song, “If it ain’t about the money”.

This generation has grown up with some of the richest, most famous religious leaders, not to mention we grew up with the catholic scandal actually being out  in the open versus behind close doors, tell me why it’s crazy to think we’re less likely to want to be affiliated with a religion or religious groups. Certain culture, racial groups, and religions differ on the statistics, but across religions lines, one thing that is certain, millennials need for religion is declining. Maybe it’s as more people are educated, they need less religion?

Some people believe that, “young adults perceive evangelical Christianity to be too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice …… young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness….. What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.” (source) 

While I agree to an extent, when you look at alternative churches, or what some call the “feel good” churches, their leaders start a church and lead the church for YEARS, as many of the traditional churches do. As churches grow,  certain things flow in, more money, radio or TV deals, more attention, power, and fame. Now for some, can they stay grounded? I am not so sure. We are human, and to err really is human. When you ask people no longer affiliated with a belief system, its often something that happened to them or some religious drama.

Religious leaders serving for their whole life was always an interesting concept, especially in the Christian faith, when Jesus only served in his ministry for 3 years on earth, are those leaders greater than he? Is he not the example?

My mother, a very devout woman, has always made the point that you should never discuss a spiritual or religious matter over and over, but in today’s society it feels as if we don’t have any conversations about religion, too contentious. Religion, spirituality, or your belief system, isn’t like race, there are times you should be surrounded by people who are just like you, but if we never talk about differing views and ideologies, we are doing ourselves a disservice. So I want to hear from you,

 Why do you think Millennials are less religious? Or why are millennials finding less need for places of worship?

Comment below or tweet me @TheDSTLawyer or @missinperspctiv