Power and Love
[Vinod Anand]

All of us contain within ourselves two strong but distinctly different fundamental forces that are in tension: power and love. In working for social change, we need both.

The problem is — whether we openly acknowledge it or not — each of us is tilted more towards one or the other, falling into either the power-camp or the love-camp. Our task then is to learn to work with each of them, rather than denying their hold onus.

It is not only an important need to uncover our preference or leaning, but also to learn how to balance them in our lives. According to Adam Kahane, author of Power and Love:
A Theory and Practice of Social Change, those in the power-camp think that compassion and empathy are soft emotions that don’t really matter, or are even unhelpful in the working world, and should be restricted to home, family and romance.

They tend to zoom in on the weak, ineffectual, soppy side of love which certainly does exist. Love-camp types, on the other hand, see power-camp types as ruthless and manipulative — and while this is often true, it certainly isn’t always so.

Kahane interestingly points out that love without power is equally prevalent and equally dangerous for people trying to accomplish something; it’s just less understood. These days power has acquired a bad name, being associated again and again with just one rough end of the power-camp spectrum of selfishness, exploitation and megalomania.

We are called to nurture and validate the ethical practice of power — in others, yes, but mainly in ourselves; to take on responsibility, demand accountability and dissociate the word from its negative clout.

Actually, why we don’t see this ‘preference’ or its dark side clearly in ourselves is very wisely explained by Wendy Palmer, an aikido expert. “In a no-stress situation”, she says, “We can handle both power and love...”

But under stress, we revert to old habits. Power-camp people rush to their comfort zone, becoming more domineering, more reckless and more abusive, almost without thinking; while love-camp people revert to theirs, becoming more sentimental, more illogical and hand-wringingly inactive. And it is usually under stress that most important decisions are made, most irreversible damage done.

Making a choice between the two won’t work. Power and love constitute an ongoing dilemma that must be reconciled repeatedly, continuously and creatively. When asked how one can become accomplished at this balance, Kahane responded: “You have to deliberately practice both: power and love, power and love, like walking with your left foot and then right foot, over and over and over...”

Personally, I see that I tend to wriggle out of the ‘power thing’, caught up in my less than wholesome witnessing of it, the responsibilities I don’t feel strong or brave enough to accept, and also the definitions and connotations that were passed on in my upbringing.

But slowly recognizing its capacity and influence for good, this year I am taking awkward baby steps to redress the imbalance in my life and work. So let’s try to understand that power and love both delineate the space of social change. If we want to get unstuck and to move around this space, if we want to address our toughest challenges, we must understand and work with both of these drives.

Author's Bio: 


Born in 1939, and holding Master’s Degree both in Mathematics (1959) and Economics (1961), and Doctorate Degree in Economics (1970), Dr. Vinod K.Anand has about forty five years of teaching, research, and project work experience in Economic Theory (both micro and macro), Quantitative Economics, Public Economics, New Political Economy, and Development Economics with a special focus on economic and social provisions revolving around poverty, inequality, and unemployment issues, and also on informal sector studies. His last assignment was at the National University of Lesotho (Southern Africa) from 2006 to 2008. Prior to that he was placed as Professor and Head of the Department of Economics at the University of North-West in the Republic of South Africa, and University of Allahabad in India, Professor at the National University of Lesotho, Associate Professor at the University of Botswana, Gaborone in Botswana, and at Gezira University in Wad Medani, Sudan, Head, Department of Arts and Social Sciences, Yola in Nigeria, Principal Lecturer in Economics at Maiduguri University in Nigeria, and as Lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in Nigeria. Professor Anand has by now published more than 80 research papers in standard academic journals, authored 11 books, supervised a number of doctoral theses, was examiner for more than twenty Ph.D. theses, and has wide consultancy experience both in India and abroad, essentially in the African continent. This includes holding the position of Primary Researcher, Principal Consultant etc. in a number of Research Projects sponsored and funded by Universities, Governments, and International Bodies like, USAID, IDRC, and AERC. His publications include a variety of themes revolving around Economic Theory, New Political Economy, Quantitative Economics, Development Economics, and Informal Sector Studies. His consultancy assignments in India, Nigeria, Sudan, Botswana, and the Republic of South Africa include Non-Directory Enterprises in Allahabad, India, Small Scale Enterprises in the Northern States of Nigeria, The Absolute Poverty Line in Sudan, The Small Scale Enterprises in Wad Medani, Sudan, Micro and Small Scale Enterprises in Botswana, The Place of Non-Formal Micro-Enterprises in Botswana, Resettlement of a Squatter Community in the Vryburg District of North West Province in the Republic of South Africa, Trade and Investment Development Programme for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises: Support for NTSIKA in the Republic of South Africa, and Development of the Manufacturing Sector in the Republic of South Africa’s North West Province: An Approach Based on Firm Level Surveys. Professor Anand has also extensively participated in a number of conferences, offered many seminars, participated in a number of workshops, and delivered a variety of Refresher Lectures at different venues both in India and abroad. Dr. Anand was placed at the prestigious Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), Shimla in the State Himachal Pradesh, India as a Fellow from 2001 to 2003, and had completed a theoretical and qualitative research project/monograph on the Employment Profile of Micro Enterprises in the State of Himachal Pradseh, India.