In just a few days, we have been informed of two more abuses of power amongst our government officials — one definitely occurred, the other has been alleged . . . and it seems facts are bearing it out. Most importantly, both of them had horrific impact on citizens of our country!
One . . . Governor David Paterson of New York is accused of having used his power in behalf of an aide.
The aide had been accused of battering his girlfriend, who then filed a criminal complaint against him. The governor is alleged to have sent state police officers, who did not have any jurisdiction in the case, to speak with the alleged victim to harass her into not proceeding with the action,* and then to have asked his press secretary to contact the victim and instruct her to publicly describe the incident as “non-violent.” He is alleged to have then called her himself…after which she would not appear in court to proceed with the case.** So she was victimized twice … once by her boyfriend and once by the governor.
Who needs to do their work with their relationship with power in the state of New York? Certainly, the governor’s aide. And it certainly looks like the governor needs to himself. Although this incident is in no way, shape, or form her fault or responsibility…even the woman in the case needs to work with her relationship with power . . . so she can stand up against abuse, instead of collapsing in the face of the governor’s call.
Two . . . Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, with his single vote, made sure jobless aid (and help with health insurance premiums) ran out Sunday night February 28th. And again Tuesday morning, March 3, when another Senator requested a 30 month extension of jobless benefits.*** And although eventually, his colleagues seem to have had an impact, and he backed down . . . for too long a time one single senator had the power to cause the suffering of tens of thousands of citizens. One senator abused the power he had, the consequences be damned.
Who needs to do their work with their relationship with power in the Senate? Certainly Senator Bunning. Actually, every single senator needs to work with his/her relationship with power. Not just because of terrible misuses of power they have committed, but to help them keep themselves in integrity with their relationship with power and the power they have.
Have we had our fill yet? Are we just going to keep watching the people out there who misuse and abuse their power, say ‘tsk tsk,’ and exonerate ourselves? Or are we going to look in the mirror these leaders hold up for us? Are we going to do our own inner work with the misuse and abuse of power in our own lives . . . so we can pull our abuse of power out of the collective pool? And so we can stand up and say ‘no’ when others abuse their power?
The truth is . . . we all need to do our own inner work with our relationships with power. We’ve all experienced others using their power with us . . . from the time we were born. And we all have had at least some painful experiences through childhood and into our adulthood. We all use power — sometimes well and for great good, sometimes poorly and causing harm. Each one of us needs to take seriously our responsibility to do our own healing with our relationship with power . . . for our own sake and for the sake of our world.
© Judith Barr, 2010
*** article at BostonHerald.com