Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is a truism with which we are all familiar. The lack of power also corrupts, in that it relieves us of responsibility – and the absolute lack of power also corrupts absolutely by excusing us from any accountability for our actions.
It follows, I think, that for this reason the only place in which a good human life can be lived is in that uncomfortable tension between the two, so that the question before us must always be one of obedience rather than servility.
Some believe that our choices are predestined by the chemical makeup of our brains and bodies, and we are therefore powerless to change them. But even if this is so, it is the actions we take in this lifetime of choices that bring us from our infantile potentials to the way in which those potentials are finally lived
out. Even accepting predestination, it is through life in the realm of tension between power and powerlessness that our true character and – dare I say it – worth is proven out.