Power can be defined as a person or thing having great influence, force, or authority. It can also be described as possession of control, authority, or influence over others. With great power comes even greater responsibility. Principle is a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning. When you choose power over principle the results are always problematic but can also be catastrophic.
There are certain social contracts that people who choose to live in a “free” society agree to abide by and trust that others who are a part of that society do likewise. Often these societal “norms” and agreements are taken for granted because they are so commonly understood. We have an assumption, among the many assumptions that we make, that those people who choose to run for public office are decent people who honestly want to make the country, state, city, or municipality in which they live a better place for the citizens they want to serve, in whatever capacity or office to which they are elected.
As citizens of a civil society, we have a basic expectation that people will be governed by a set of values and cultural, physical, and societal “norms.” We believe and expect that people will obey the laws of the land. We have a reasonable expectation that if we stand in a line for goods or services, we will wait our turn and allow those who are ahead of us in line to go before us. Someone who believes that the “rules” don’t apply to them can immediately cause chaos by jumping the line and going straight to the front. This would be disruptive, ill-mannered, and might create physical harm when everyone else decides, “If that person can just go straight to the front of the line so can I.” Everyone begins to surge ahead of one another in a frenzied effort to be in the front of the line. There is no decency or honor in the aforementioned action. The only thing it can possibly spawn is disruption, dissent, and even violence.
It’s considered bad manners to talk over someone who is already talking or to intentionally interrupt another person changing the subject to what you want to talk about or information you want to share without ANY consideration of the person who was talking first. When a society begins to devolve into anti-social, anti-establishment disruptive behaviors and beliefs people become increasingly ill-mannered, divisive, and ill-tempered. People are ready to fight rather than discuss their disagreements in an orderly and humane way. A society based on goodwill is a much better society in which to live. We can disagree and we can still maintain a civility that allows us to live together without fear. We have become a society in which that has become less and less possible over the past few years.
We in the United States of America are far from being united right now. Many historians have claimed that we have not been this bifurcated as a nation since the days just before the Civil War. The nation was literally torn apart by the questions surrounding “states’ rights” and the institution of slavery. The nation was at war with itself and its own founding principles and proclamations. We have found ourselves in a similar state of division in the U.S. right now. There are Americans, which includes an entire political party, who cannot agree on what is the truth and what are LIES? And perhaps many within the party do not agree with others? We don’t know because they remain silent. And their silence must be ascribed to agreement or complicity at the very least. When truth becomes relative, and integrity is absent from beliefs, conviction, and conversation we are in extremely dangerous times. When “Ethics” are ONLY situational, they cease to be ethical. When false narratives are embraced by the powerful to maintain their power without any consideration of “PRINCIPLE,” we must recognize that our Democracy is teetering on the edges of authoritarian rule. Fascism lives in the spaces where power becomes more important than principle. With each and every day, America’s standing as the world’s greatest democracy is eroding. And that is NOT an exaggeration!