Power as Capacity
The development of a world civilization requires a transformation such as humanity has not yet experienced – both of society and of human consciousness. Questions naturally arise, then, regarding the power necessary for this change: who wields it, how it can be used, what are its sources, etc. Power, like all other concepts, needs redefinition and reconceptualization.
First, it is extremely helpful to equate the concept of power with the concept of capacity, to understand power as capacity. In physics, a boulder at the top of a cliff has a measure of potential energy – latent capacity – and when it rolls down, this potential becomes kinetic energy – actualized capacity. As it manifests its capacity for kinetic energy, it exerts power. In social reality, too, power is capacity. Prevailing definitions of power focus on the capacity to dominate, the capacity of manipulate, the capacity to compete, to capacity to pursue self-interest, the capacity to prevail. However, added to this list can be the capacity to cooperate, the capacity to unify, the capacity to assist, the capacity to work creatively with others, the capacity empower, the capacity to transform. Conceptualizing power as capacity opens up to the mind a wide range of human potentialities that can be expressed in social reality as power.
What are some sources of power and capacity? Again, prevailing thought focuses on material sources. These include obvious forms such as physical strength and military might, to less obvious forms such as money, wealth, and capital; access to media, the classroom, or the pulpit; access to specialized knowledge or technology; and social status. No doubt these are sources of power and capacity. Yet, society (and reality) has both a material and spiritual dimension – consequently, aren’t there spiritual sources of power as well?