Knowing Power

By MUHAMMED SAID ARBAŞ

Epictetus

Have you ever seen someone powerful and charismatic? What makes this person powerful? Is it because he is rich and famous? Maybe, he is just incredibly clever. Power conceptually is defined as the capacity and ability to direct or influence the behavior of others and the course of events. Variations of power are universally recognized in physical and conceptual forms. But since the concept of power is an argumentative subject, to facilitate and pinpoint the most effective form of power is a difficult task. Money for instance is a universally recognized form of power that enables the acquisition of various commodities and luxuries. However, acquisition of financial power, especially in copious amounts, requires decades of hard work, as money only becomes powerful in large sums and not in minimal amounts. Moreover, maintenance of money is difficult as well. Several businesses, for instance, experience bankruptcy due to large expenses for expansion and a decline in profit from low margins. Fame operates in a similar manner. For one, the process towards the acquisition of fame is not only difficult, but the maintenance of fame equally demands the exact persistence needed for the maintenance of money, and the possession of fame is only great at large. Briefly, it seems that power’s utmost effect, physically or conceptually, is potent only in copious amounts. Even when in possession of power, maintenance is difficult. Which makes power¾established in common forms for the aforementioned facilitation process¾short-term. Fortunately, there is a form of power that is easily attainable, potent, and everlasting. It is called knowledge.

The attainability of knowledge is indisputably simple. Process for the accumulation of knowledge can be engaged through the web, books, and experiences. Even as babies we attained information through observations. And through maturity, we accumulate knowledge by means of books and experiences capable of changing our perceptions, morality, and even our very actions. Of course, the process of attaining powerful information shares the same difficulty as attaining money for financial power. So, the process of attaining money in exchange for a luxurious lifestyle and possession of various commodities is more engaging. However, not only are financial possessions short-term but even the process required to attain money is done through the accumulation of knowledge. Because logically, in order to make money, you have to know money.

Knowledge is also powerful in terms of it being the common denominator related to every form of power. For example, a good orator must know how to deliver and compose speeches. Similarly, a good commander must know how to command. Knowledge shapes us into Gods and destroyers of worlds. With the discovery of solar panels creating renewable energy and drip irrigation transforming deserts into lush lands, humans managed to use their understanding of nature to their will. Likewise, through their understanding of chemistry, humans created the atomic bomb and chemical weapons, resulting in multiple atrocities. But knowledge pushed us to print our feet on other planets, formulate concepts that pave way for us to understand empirically impossible concepts, and its very existence, whether as ideas or information, still echoes today.

Money, fame, rank, strength, all forms of power fade away through time. Knowledge however never fades away.  Medications are the greatest example of how knowledge has passed from generation to generation over the centuries and survived. Humans observed the healing properties of plants, leading to the usage of the aforementioned plants. By developing such knowledge, human beings started purifying the therapeutic agents of plants from the plant, and through further development, they began synthesizing those therapeutic agents which ultimately resulted in the creation of medications.

Money and fame are great forms of power. Through their use comes the possibility of influencing individuals and changing lifestyles. But there is one trait knowledge owns which cannot be owned by means of money or fame. While money and fame provide power for groups, knowledge provides power for everyone. Knowledge survives, morphs, and through time it evolves. Knowledge creates miracles and atrocities. It is always available no matter where you are. Its presence is forever and universal. In the words of Michael Foucault, “Knowledge is Power.”

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