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Power and Oppression in Today’s Mirror 26 May 2008

Posted by MOZAFFAR in MOZAFFAR, Politics, Psychology.
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In every generation are people sensitive to abuses of power. In this generation, however, we are taught to be extra-sensitive about the nature and consequences of power. We are taught that “power” is to be possessed equally by all. Such is the ethos of democracy, in that no authoritarian structure has the authority to compel us to act, save in manners that are of benefit to the self and/or society. That compelling force becomes the force of the law.

A person is given “human” status, then, when that human is given the authority and ability to wield power. Thus, if someone has the right, for example, to vote, s/he has status as a “human. ” If s/he is not given that right, then s/he is classified (for all intents and purposes) as an animal or commodity. Thus, if someone has the right to redress wrongs and is given the full right of full compensation when wronged, then s/he is regarded and respected as legally “human.”

When we learn of a person of authority abusing a person without authority, we are taught to be repulsed. And, rightly so. When a priest rapes a boy, we are repulsed. When a high school teacher has an affair with a student — whether or not we call it by its name of “rape” — we are repulsed. In such cases, the person of power is exploiting the person without power. We are taught that that exploitation of the powerless is repulsive.

Nevertheless, no system can eliminate the innate yearning for power. It is part of our Commanding Self, the nafs al-amāra. We innately seek power. The appetite is there within all of us, though in some it is a stronger appetite than in others. And of those who seek power, some use any means available to them to keep others from it.

Thus, we fall into a particular dilemma. No system of law is perfect. Law based on revelation is at risk of errors. That risk is not because revelation itself is imperfect, because for the believer it is not. But, the moment revelation is used as the basis of law, we engage in interpretation. That interpretive process is at risk not only for errors, but more importantly—in matters of law—exploitation.

Thus, we have this dilemma. Those with power fool those without power. Those with power—-the power brokers—convince the powerless that they (the powerless) do indeed have power. It is such a wise trick. Those driven by their own nafs al-amāra, maintain and increase their own power by doing what? They feed the nafs al-amāra of the powerless masses. Thus, today, we have a generation of citizens who are increasingly obese, are taught to be bored and are then cured of that boredom (by way of personal media devices), have sexual fulfillment (that might at times itself be asexual), and of course, have access to substances.

One feeds his/her own appetites by feeding the appetites of the rest. Despite our hyper-sensitivity to exploitation, the power brokers continue to loot the nation. We are fully “human,” yet are we then any different than the turkeys getting fattened for the slaughter?

And Allah knows best…

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