Abuse of Power—Will It Ever End?
AMONG the ways in which imperfect people betray how selfish they are is in their craving for power. The well-known British writer Malcolm Muggeridge pointed out that people love power “because [they] have not realized that the basis of human life is love . . . But basically the urge for power is a very dangerous one. It’s one that Jesus Christ declined to have.”
Because of the prevalence of this craving for power, together with the havoc it can cause, the Founding Fathers of the United States devised a constitution that divided governmental powers into three parts: executive, legislative, and judicial. These parts were to provide checks so that there would be no abuse of power.
In spite of the Founders’ noble intentions, there has been widespread abuse of power in that land. But you may know from personal experience and observation that there has been abuse of power in all parts of the world. History is filled with the records of men who abused power to their own aggrandizement and to the harm of their fellowman. Think, for example, of Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, Napoleon, and Hitler.
When Did It Start?
You have good reason to ask, though, when did all this abuse of power begin? A reliable answer is available in the book of man’s earliest history, which is the Bible. There you can read about events in the garden of Eden. Satan the Devil, whom the Bible shows to be a real creature, hungered for power. He tempted the human race to start out on the road of sin. One manifestation of sin is man’s widespread lust for power, to abuse it. (Genesis 3:1-19; Romans 5:12) Satan long ago caused the nations to come under his control, so that he was able to offer rulership over them to Jesus Christ. (Matthew 4:8-10) The Devil has deceived almost all men, so that it can be said that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”—1 John 5:19; Revelation 12:9.
Here is a thought that may startle you: Foremost among those who have served the Devil’s purpose have been many religious leaders. How is that so? Well, they have abused their power by teaching false doctrines, thereby enslaving people. False religious leaders have also abused their power by persecuting God’s true servants. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, pointed to the sorry record of Israel’s religious leaders: “Obstinate men and uncircumcised in hearts and ears . . . Which one of the prophets did your forefathers not persecute? Yes, they killed those who made announcement in advance concerning the coming of the righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.”—Acts 7:51, 52.
Stephen was one of the first of the long line of faithful Christians who have been persecuted. The apostle Paul’s words have indeed proved true: “All those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12) The record of Jehovah’s Witnesses in modern times bears this out. Even now, in some 40 lands these Christians feel the abuse of power in that their ministry is being hindered by the authorities.
And how many other abuses of power there are! Look wherever we will, we see people groaning because of it. Abuse on the part of employers spawned the labor movement. But today it is apparent that some leaders in organized labor are also guilty of abusing power. Minority ethnic groups suffer from abuse of power by the majority. Another form of abuse is that by men in management positions taking liberties with women employees, who may feel pressured to submit out of fear of losing their jobs. For example, one aspiring ballerina was offered a leading part in a ballet production if she would go to bed with the producer.
Yes, the world is filled with people who misuse their power. All who selfishly do so evidence that they do not have the fear of God. Why is that true? Because, as God’s Word says, “The fear of Jehovah means the hating of bad.” (Proverbs 8:13; Psalm 97:10) To abuse or misuse power is indeed something bad, but such abuse will not always exist.