The Dual Nature of Power

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“With great power comes great responsibility.” This phrase correctly assesses that the more power a being has, the greater capacity they have for both good and evil; for the creation of beautiful things or the destruction of that which is lovely. The possession of power does not necessarily mean that the power will be used honorably. In the timeless Lord of the Rings saga, the two wizards, Saruman and Gandalf, were both imbued with great power. Their reaction to the power, however, was very different. On one hand, Gandalf had a healthy respect for the seductive properties of power and managed to resist using and abusing it for his own ends. Conversely, Saruman gave in and attempted to set himself as a dominant ruler; ultimately failing and creating a colossal amount of ruin in the process. They were both given power, one used it properly and achieved many great feats; the other abused the power and lost everything. This concept applies to the human race as well. Some look at the horrors committed by human being in the past and conclude that we have degenerated far below the common animal. Others point to the great achievements off science and art, along with the selfless aid granted to the helpless, from American ghettos to war-torn countries, and insist that we are progressing toward a perfect utopia. What they both fail to see is that this power can be used to accomplish wonderful deeds or destroy all that truly matters.

The dark use of this power can be seen in all the wars, the crime, and the corruption that has plagued mankind since before recorded history. It can be seen in every Stalin, Capone, and Attila the Hun in history, who have not let the concept of morality to stand between them and supremacy. One parti...

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...ar, facing disease and hardship or when a soldier throws himself on a grenade to save his comrades. The bad is evident in families torn apart by drug abuse and also in every shop clerk shot and killed during a holdup. This war’s outcome really depends on the individual and the choices they make; every decision will take them down one path or the other, often having greater consequences than they could ever imagine.

The people who claim that humans have become less than animals, along with the optimists looking forward to a utopia, both fail to see the whole picture; they need to recognize the dual nature of the power humans in order to reach an accurate conclusion. When they only focus on one extreme, they gain a false worldview that will taint all of their assumptions. Power can be used for evil or good; the choice lies in the individual possessing it.
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