Opinion: ‘Personal Power’ – or ‘Power Over’?
‘The world’s going to hell in a handcart’. ‘It’s not my country anymore –
I’m out of here’. ‘Sex, drugs and rock-and-roll is all the kids care about’.
‘Our young people are the future of the world – God help us!’ And so on and
so forth, ad infinitum.
Sadly, many of us believe that the above is true, worldwide, and accuse the
more optimistic souls amongst us of being incredibly na´ve, stupid, or, at
worst, of being in the early stages of senile dementia. Expat opinions
peculiar to our community, especially when expressed in online forums, seem
to range from ‘I’d rather be here, whatever’s going on, at least it’s warm’,
through variations on ‘I’m only here for the beer’ to ‘I’ve wouldn’t live
anywhere else – not that I could afford to these days’. Others amongst us
consider what’s going on in the Thai community, and adjust accordingly to,
hopefully, the benefit of both sides. But, was anything ever truly any
different, anywhere? And, if not, why not?
Surely, there must have been a time when the world was, at least
temporarily, on the upswing and neighbour related to neighbour in a positive
manner? A little like the sanitised representations of the Wild West
portrayed on certain US TV channels, where the only mention of God was in
prayer and all the wooden homes, churches and fences were sparkling white
with fresh new paint? Not according to psychiatrists, who state
unequivocally that power is the only thing which ever guided, (or perhaps
misguided), the progress of the human race from cave to mansion, from animal
fur frocks to Gucci. And they don’t mean personal power, they mean ‘Power
Tragically, it looks as though they are right, and their theory doesn’t just
apply in the 21st, or even in the 19th and 20th centuries. Power Over, quite
simply, is the desire to manipulate, control and dominate. Families,
individuals, children, towns, countries, religions, even nature herself, all
fall victim to the controlling ambitions of Power Over, exercised by those
who do not understand sharing, empathy or mutuality. The result? Broken
lives, induced, irrational fear resulting in prejudice and violence, broken
countries, wars, and, ultimately, the destruction of our fragile and
Looking back, far back, into human history, this human race has always
thrown up powerful individuals who have played a significant part in our
development, for good or evil. Some have become great religious leaders,
others great scientists, philosophers, artists or composers; some have led
their people to freedom from slavery. Others, though, have, through greed
and misplaced ego, caused wars or established vicious regimes where rape,
torture and murder are commonplace and uncondemned. This, then, is the
difference between Personal Power and Power Over.
But, of course, it’s not only the great and the good, or the evil, who have
influence over our lives. Power Over rears its ugly head every time a woman
is abused, physically or emotionally, every time a child is sexually
assaulted, every time a woman is raped, every time a boss bullies an
employee, every time a mob attacks an innocent person, every time a law is
passed which restricts human rights, every time a human rights law is
ignored, every time corruption prevents a law enforcer from doing his job,
every time a refugee from persecution is hounded back into a danger zone,
every time a multi-national company’s manager ignores its duty to residents
and the environment, every time a country and its leaders slide closer to
establishing a police state, every time…every time…every time.
And, of course, every time a politician, at whatever level, ignores the
citizens who put him in office with their votes. Let’s face it, the whole of
civilisation as we know it is founded on the tainted vision of Power Over –
the personal, cultural and global problems which have resulted should stand
as proof of the truth of this statement. As a result, right now, we have
appalling power over the planet – the power to wipe out our world, the power
of total destruction. And, as if the ecological situation was not serious
enough, we have rogue states led by men who are doing their best, when
they’re not tormenting their own people, to get their hands on ‘weapons of
mass destruction’, this time for real. At this point, it would seem that the
human race is in danger of reaping what it has sown, with the ‘Power Over’
model of control and dominance taking us to the brink of global chaos.
Personal Power, however, is the way of mutuality and co-creation – the
ability to know, to choose and to create from wherever feelings originate
within humans. Whether this source is, as some would have it, the soul, or
is a matter for brain function, it knows what is right and what is needed.
This is reality. It promotes self-esteem and trust in life itself. It
devalues no-one and reinforces tolerance, relationships and care for our
world. This, of course, is the ideal state which surely must have been
present in the great religious leaders, composers, artists and workers for
peace and freedom, right up until the present day; a state in which action
and interaction becomes mutually supportive, creative and positive, and
communication between humans is open and honest.
Given where the human race seems to be heading, dragging the natural world
along with it, Personal Power as an all-embracing concept might seem
impossible. A feeling that things have gone too far is understandable. A
feeling that only violence itself can prevent ultimate violence is also
understandable, but wrong. We, the ordinary people, inhabitants of this
planet, look around us, and see that our friends do posses Personal Power,
and use it to help, heal, contribute and encourage. In small ways, we
accentuate the positive and deny the negative. There are millions of us…if
we all refuse to tolerate Power Over in any aspect of our own lives, our
changed perception of our shared world as a supportive, creative environment
and the power of life and love themselves may be enough to change the future
whilst there is still time.
‘Love is the child of freedom; never the child of domination’- Erich
FERC and Chiang Mai Friends
want your favourite recipes!
The Chiang Mai Friends’ Group, (CMF), has proposed as a project a
cookbook which will promote Chiang Mai and its wonderful food as well as
benefit the Foundation for the Education of Rural Children, (FERC) a
registered charity in Thailand which is legally incorporated as a tax
exempt organisation in the United States. This means that the
organisation meets all of the legal requirements in both countries for
transparency, and is audited in both countries annually. 100% of
donations to FERC through the project will go to scholarships for rural
The cookbook, which will be printed in both English and Thai, will
include favourite recipes from many countries, including Thailand, all
hopefully, provided by both CMF members and readers of this paper.
Starters, soups, main courses, desserts, finger food – all contributors
need to bear in mind is that ingredients should be available wherever
prospective purchasers live. An ambitious aim, but many big cities
worldwide now have both Asian and European markets, and most major
supermarket chains provide a selection of international ingredients in
their stores. The cookbook will be priced reasonably and will be sold
locally as well as by representatives of FERC who live abroad. Both
residents of Chiang Mai and tourists are sure to find it attractive, not
only for its recipes but also for its advertisements by sponsors, which
will provide a guide for tourists in deciding where to stay, what sites
to visit and where to dine.
A committee will solicit sponsors for the project and make other
production arrangements. But the most important input will be the
recipes, those favourites that are regularly prepared for friends and
For more information on format, or other questions, please contact
Rebecca Lomax at [email protected] gmail.com. The deadline for recipe
submission is September 1. The cookbook will go to the printer in
October. The committee reserves the right to limit the number of
The next Chiang Mai Friends’ Group meeting will be held on July 28, at
Just Khao Soy Restaurant, located on Charoenphratet Rd, with parking
close by at Anusarn Market. The event will begin as usual at 5 30 p.m.
with a friendship session and a varied menu of delicious dishes, priced,
including the meeting itself, at 250 baht. For those who’ve eaten
earlier, the meeting, with coffee and biscuits, is just 80 baht.
The speaker will be John Shaw, the Honorary British Consul in Chiang Mai
between 1990 and 1995, and founder of the Citylife magazine, of which
his daughter, Pim Kemasingki, is now the editor. John is also the author
of no less than 5 books on Thailand and Thai culture, and has lived in
Chiang Mai for more than 40 years. His talk will also include some
essential tips on ‘Do’s and Don’ts in Thailand’.
Following the talk will be the open forum and a networking session;
great chances to share experiences, ask questions, and make contacts.
The use of the
Unbelievable…or not? The quotes below
are from letters actually written to local
authority offices in the UK by disgruntled
social housing residents…we wonder what answers
It’s the dogs’ mess that I find hard to
I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has
backfired and burnt my knob off.
I wish to complain that my father burnt his
ankle very badly when he put his foot in the
hole in his back passage..
And their 18 year old son is continually banging
his balls against my fence.
I wish to report that tiles are missing from the
outside toilet roof. I think it was bad wind the
other day that blew them off.
My lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand?
I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is
coming away from the wall.
Will you please send someone to mend the garden
path. My wife tripped and fell on it yesterday
and now she is pregnant.
I request permission to remove my drawers in the
50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling
plaster, and 50% are plain filthy.
I am still having problems with smoke in my new
The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the
children until it is cleared.
Will you please send a man to look at my water,
it is a funny colour and not fit to drink.
Our lavatory seat is broken in half and now is
in three pieces.
I want to complain about the farmer across the
road. Every morning at 6 a.m. his cock wakes me
up and it’s now getting too much for me.
The man next door has a large erection in the
back garden, which is unsightly and dangerous.
Our kitchen floor is damp. We have two children
and would like a third, so please send someone
round to do something about it.
I am a single woman living in a downstairs flat
and would you please do something about the
noise made by the man on top of me every night.
Please send a man with the right tool to finish
the job and satisfy my wife.
I have had the Clerk of Works down on the floor
six times but I still have no satisfaction.
This is to let you know that our lavatory seat
is broken and we can’t get BBC2 TV
My bush is really overgrown round the front and
my back passage has fungus growing in it.
He’s got this huge tool that vibrates the whole
house and I just can’t take it anymore.