MORE ABOUT POWER AS KNOWING PARTICIPATION IN CHANGE
I began developing the Power as Knowing Participation in Change theory over thirty years ago and the continuing emergence and use of the theory has been my passion ever since. I was searching for another way of understanding power than the traditional type that views power as force, domination, manipulation, and control. I defined power as the capacity to participate knowingly in change as manifest by the inseparable dimensions of awareness, choices, freedom to act intentionally, and involvement in creating change. Power cannot be understood by examining the dimensions individually; in other words, one can know everything there is to know about awareness, choices, freedom, and involvement and not understand anything about power. Power is irreducible. Power is being aware of what one is choosing to do, feeling free to do it, and doing it intentionally.
Years later, I realized that my description of power describes all theories of power, so I theorized that there are two types of power that I named power-as-control, the kind of power we are all too familiar with in our everyday world, and power-as-freedom, the kind of power that many of us are searching to understand and live as we continuously participate in creating the reality of our existence. Both types of power manifest in innumerable forms that reflect either control or freedom and derive from different ways of looking at the world. Power-as-control is based on a material worldview; power-as-freedom is based on a spiritual worldview.
Power just is! It is a phenomenon that exists in the world. It is what it is and what it is, I repeat, is the capacity to participate KNOWINGLY in change. We are always participating in change, but not always in a knowing way. How do we know it when we see it? When awareness, choices, freedom to act intentionally, and involvement in creating change are united inseparably, then we are talking about POWER. The forms of both types of power are too numerable to name, but there are many common examples we continuously encounter. For example, we have all seen money used for purposes of control – of people, places, or things. On the other hand, money can be used for purposes of freedom – to meet our basic needs, or as a resource for education or helping others or for charitable giving. Similarly, knowledge can be used for purposes of control or for freedom.
The traditional power-as-control theories view power essentially as the ability to prevent or cause change and are characterized by dominance, force, manipulation, and control. On the other hand, power-as-freedom proposes that change is not based on cause-and-effect principles and has to do with dynamic, inseparable relationships. This view of power is opposed to the belief that power is a thing to be acquired and embraces the idea that power is a process to be lived. It is up to us how we choose to live it. Power is something we are, not something we have.
Change is a mutual process of continuous participation that may or may not be knowing. The knowing participation of power is not a cognitive knowing, but a unitary knowing that includes both knowing what we are fully aware of and knowing what we do not know we know as we are not fully aware of it and yet it is guiding us, sometimes in profound ways. Perhaps this is an aspect of human knowing that unites us with the spiritual knowing of the universe. Similarly, as Sir Arthur Eddington said when speaking about the uncertainty principle, “Something unknown is doing we don’t know what.” Most importantly, power differs from unknowing participation in change that lacks any type of awareness.
Freedom to act intentionally requires use of will. We have the capacity to use will in an intentional way to exercise our freedom or we can use will in efforts to have control. Freedom is the ability to exercise choice and make decisions without constraint from oneself or others. Intention is the imaginative participation in possibilities that gives direction to will. We take the step toward control or freedom by using the will deliberately through action. This action is involvement in creating change knowingly. Involvement in creating change proceeds differently when choices are aimed toward control than when they are aimed toward freedom.
If you would like to see a formal diagram of the Power as Knowing Participation in Change Theory, please click here.
If you would like a more formal description of the Power as Knowing Participation in Change Theory, please click here.