A long, long time ago I saw a movie that contained a scene that made me think about different kinds of power, and what constitutes true power.
In the movie, a man's car breaks down and he calls a tow truck. While waiting for assistance, another man approaches the guy who owns the car and points a gun in his face. He wants the car owner's money, but more than that, he wants the car owner to say out loud that the guy with the gun is "all that" and has tremendous power, " all the power." In a split second I'm thinking about what I'd say in the moment, when the guy in the movie says, "without that gun, you're nothing. You have no power without that gun."
I was really struck by this line.
So, the guy with the gun had a certain kind of power- he could take the life of the guy without the gun. But the car owner was correct: take away that gun and he didn't have any real power.
It seemed to me the one who had the true fundamental and enduring power was the guy without the gun, the car owner. He, in spite of a threat to his life was brave enough and powerful enough still to tell the truth.
When we think about power, we ought to be clear about different kinds of power. There are times when cowardice can masquerade as power. Fear, envy, rage... many things can come off as power. So, when we see something that looks "powerful" we need to look very closely.
Sometimes what looks like power is really power; sometimes it is not.