Power

I met a man last week who had never been to Africa but blew in for three days and told me there would be a settlement this week. I hope he is right as we have been waiting for 43 years (since UDI) and more for a settlement.'

Independence seemed like one for a time but it did not provide a lasting accord which satisfied everyone. These past weeks we have heightened expectations of a settlement but so far it eludes us. Perhaps between the writing of these words and their appearance in print we will have one?

But what makes one doubt is the way people abuse the power they have. Imagine agreeing to meet someone and then denying them the means to come to the meeting? Too often power is exercised as though it has no implications. I display my power and I do not care about the consequences. But there are always consequences. The settlers in this country made a deliberate choice a hundred years ago to use power to preserve and develop their hold on the country and its resources. When the local people started to enter the economy in the 1920s the settlers deliberately devised legislation to limit their access to land, industry and education. Over the years more and tighter legislation was introduced to bolster this policy. By the 1970s it led to violence and war.

And the habit of violence became embedded in the land so that even after independence in remained with us and is still with us. Oh yes, there are consequences.

The true use of power is when a person uses it to bring about what people are longing for. Think of South Africa. Naked power was used to divide people for decades, even centuries. But in the last quarter of the last century a slow painful movement gradually became unstoppable to bring about a settlement that everybody, but a few freaks, wanted. This was the use of power to bring about something that inherently was right and so it will last. Think of Europe. Hitler conquered it with military might in a few years and tried to hold it by force. He failed. Then the Europeans set out to unite it themselves over a period of sixty years, slowly and painfully building a consensus, and they are succeeding. Why? Because they are using their power to achieve something that is inherently what people want.     

When we read the letters of Paul we see him constantly talking about power. Take, for example, the one to the Ephesians (3:16ff), May He through his Spirit, enable you to grow firm in power with regard to your inner self so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith …’  What power is he talking about? He is pointing to the inner ability to work for what is really the right thing to do in any situation. It takes power, the right use of power, to do what is right now to resolve our problems and begin to feed our people. That is the inner strength we need. All this pandering to external power which gives me some momentary advantage but has no lasting effect for good is just selfish and ephemeral.

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