As we participate in our personal and professional environments how do we break down barriers by advocating for shared power to promote integral health and human caring?
The Peace and Power process breaks down barriers by challenging ideological beliefs and behaviors that alienate and divide us from one another (Chinn, 2008). This process begins with an honest personal inventory and evaluation of sociocultural mores and conditioning that inform our beliefs. It is from this starting point that we can begin to see the power of our thoughts and feelings. How we act and react creates experiences of nurturance and shared power; or of conflict and derision. “Power is the energy from which action arises” (Chinn, p.17). There are many kinds of power, but Chinn’s definition here spurs the notion of advocacy for the use of power as energy. Energy to free, to heal, to care, to make a better, more loving, understanding, healthy, kind and just world.
What are you thinking and feeling right now about what power means to you and your current (personal and professional) life experiences?
Consider the French philosopher Michel Foucault’s (b.1926- d.1984) ideas of power: Foucault (1982) said “Power is everywhere and in everything.” He believed the effects of power are linked with knowledge, competence and qualification; and that power is a socialized and embodied phenomenon. He also believed that power is discursive rather than (but can be) coercive. Discursive means “running to and from” and involves the use of language (discourse). Indeed, power is communicated in language (verbal and nonverbal).
We often think power means “power over” and attach negative meaning to it, but for Foucault power takes on a socialized, knowledge based meaning; and helps us to see what Peggy means by “power as energy for action.” For a further explanation of Foucault’s beliefs and influences please follow the link below:
As we critically examine the concept of power, we can look at the socialized and embodied beliefs, behaviors and practices that divide and join us.
Watson (2012) suggests we ask “who is this spirit filled person before me?” As we interact with our environment, and those in it, we can ask this question, and go deeper and wider to ask: what are the sociocultural, internal, external, subjective, even global and historical influences and experiences that inform this person and her or his views of self, other and world? What are the influences of power upon and within this person?
Breaking down barriers to personal and professional advocacy for integral health and human caring can begin with examining power in all its many manifestations.
Chinn, P. L. (2008). Peace and Power: Creative leadership for building community. Jones and Bartlett. Sudbury, Ma.
Foucault, M. (1982). The subject and power. Critical Inquiry, 8(4), 777-795.
Watson, J. (2012). Human caring science: A theory of Nursing. Jones and Bartlett. Sudbury, Ma.