Power of Kindness

Category: Society
Date added
2021/04/28
Pages:  5
Words:  1435
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Power is a ubiquitous force, simultaneously feared, admired, and coveted, it is a life-changing agent that, for better or worse, can alter the lives of many in the blink of an eye. Its effects are manifested in immeasurable ways, through forces of nature in the form of earthquakes, tsunamis, or tornadoes, and through humankind in acts of goodness, kindness or, sadly, evil. Its grip is compelling, its strength, at times, seemingly omnipotent. The existence of power is undeniable and boundless, pertinent to every aspect of life. Yet, despite its pervasiveness, the greatest power in existence is the power that resides within each one of us. This power within enables us to create the destiny we desire, to attain the seemingly unattainable, and to take command of the influences and forces in our lives that work against us and attempt to control us. It gives us the strength and passion we need to succeed, the determination necessary to overcome obstacles, and the courage to stand tall and fight for what we believe in. This power is the force that governs our lives and protects us, guiding us through life’s plethora of trials and tribulations while instilling in us the desire and will to persevere. This power defines us.

When power is rooted in evil, its effects can be devastating, even catastrophic. It can consume those clasped within its talons, showing its victims no mercy, continually tightening its grip until there is no opportunity for escape. Vladek Spiegelman witnessed firsthand the power of evil during the time he spent as a prisoner at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. Under the powerful control of the Schutzstaffel (SS) guards, prisoners were tortured, starved, and murdered, often en masse. The Kapo, fellow prisoners viewed as trusted inmates by the Schutzstaffel, also held positions of power within the camp. These supervisors, as they were called, wielded a great amount of power, and doled out some of the harshest punishments and beatings among the prisoners. For some of the Kapo, their complicity was a form of self-preservation, for others, it was merely a manifestation of their true, evil, selves. This perpetual abuse served to break the resolve of the prisoners, to force them into submission, and to instill within them a fear so forceful, so consuming, that it would destroy not only every remnant left of their inner power, but also their will to live.

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The abuse of power nearly always equates with evil. While the abuse of power is most evident in massive atrocities such as those perpetrated during Nazi Germany, it is certainly not exclusive to them. In A Tale for the Time Being, Nao, too, has borne witness to evil derived through an abuse of power. Popularity is a form of power, and that is especially true among the elite cliques in a school environment. At the public school that Nao attends, Reiko is the most popular student in school. Rather than use the power her popularity gives her to promote a welcoming environment of friendliness and kindness, Reiko uses her power to encourage bullying and incite malice. Her power is so formidable that even the substitute teacher complies with her demands in an effort to foster his popularity and power. Reiko, while never the direct abuser, uses her power to compel the other students to verbally and physically abuse Nao. As Nao said, “All she had to do was look at me with this expression, like she’d just caught sight of something loathsome or half-dead, and her friends would jump in to do the job” (Ozeki 128). Reiko’s victimization of Nao is beyond egregious, and with her teacher aiding and abetting, Nao has no viable options for help. With Reiko holding all the power, and deeming her abhorrent, Nao is unable to succeed in school. She cannot make friends, cannot get good grades, and most assuredly cannot escape the relentless abuse. Nao, therefore, is forced to embrace the only survival method available to her, dropping out of school.

Abuse of power is always heinous, yet when it comes from a source one expects to trust, the results are even more damaging. Haruki #1, Nao’s great-uncle, was forced to become a kamikaze pilot during World War II. During their training, Haruki and his squadron mates were severely abused by their squadron leaders. While claiming to turn them into real men, the abuse these squadron leaders doled out was, in actuality, a manifestation of their own insecurities and an exhibition of their power, compensation for an inferiority complex brought forth from leading recruits of highly educated young men. Furthermore, just as it was in the maltreatment of the prisoners at Auschwitz, this horrific abuse also served to remove all inner power from these recruits, to make them malleable, and willing to die.

Drawing on the power we possess is not always easy. Sometimes, it is far easier to acquiesce than to summon the energy needed to conquer our burdens and demons. It is during those most challenging times that we are put to the test, and far too often, rather than summoning our much needed strength and power, we allow ourselves to descend into despair. Nao’s father, Haruki #2, a man torn between duty and honor, understood that concept all too well. Filled with self-loathing for his inability to support his family, he believes that he does not deserve to live. His guilt only compounds his feelings of worthlessness, thereby creating a spiraling effect of misery seemingly too great to overcome, leading him to conclude that suicide is his only option.

Nao, too, is contemplating suicide. Nao watched her father fail at several suicide attempts, endured horrid physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her classmates, and is so emotionally traumatized that she can no longer see the value in her life. She feels abandoned, has no control over her circumstances, and does not believe she has the power within her to extricate herself and begin anew. She is “a time being about to expire” (Ozeki 340).

During times of crisis there are two options available to us; we can draw on our inner power and fight, or we can surrender our will to survive. Vladek elected to fight, and used his power and resourcefulness to lessen his abuse and increase his chances for survival. He taught English to a Kapo in exchange for clothing, food, and safety, and then secured a position as a tinsmith, a position that allowed him to see his wife, Anja, and pass food to her. He worked as a shoemaker, his skills earning him the respect of the Gestapo, who paid him in food. Vladek’s ingenuity, resourcefulness, and determination not only saved his life, but saved Anja’s life as well.

Nao, following the advice of her great-grandmother, Jiko, reached deep inside, and called upon her inner power, her “supapawa” (Ozeki 176), and chose to confront her classmates to take back her power. Both Nao and her father drew strength from Jiko’s last words, “To live” (Ozeki 362), and used that newfound fortitude to bring forth their inner power to heal, to fight, and to persevere.

Haruki #1 never allowed the evil he experienced to win. Throughout his training he used his inner power to stay strong, and never allowed his leaders to cultivate him into a source for evil. He used his inner power to summon his cunning, courage, and heroism to manipulate his existence so that when the time came, he could choose to die by crashing his plane into the ocean, rather than into an American warship, thereby saving hundreds of innocent lives.

Power is a force to be reckoned with. It is awe inspiring in its ability to control and exploit everything in its grasp, for better or for worse. Its appeal is hypnotic, a desired entity capable of inspiring envy, depravity, treachery, and despair, or, alternatively, tenacity, resilience, faith, and encouragement. The inner power every one of us possesses is a force unlike any other in existence. It provides us with the inspiration, determination, and fortitude we need to flourish, while enabling us to accomplish seemingly unreachable and insurmountable objectives, even during the worst of times. Vladek, Nao, Haruki #1, and Haruki #2 all reached deep within and drew upon their inner power, and then used that inner power to summon the courage necessary to fight the evil in their midst, to survive when survival seemed all but futile. Through the strength of their inner power they persevered, and through that perseverance, they created the destinies of their choosing, a testament to their courage, character, and fortitude.

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Power Of Kindness. (2021, Apr 28). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/power-of-kindness/