In Power, or Adversity, We Find Ourselves

By Shannon Burns. Shannon, 18, is a high school student about to attend university. She lives in Melbourne, Australia. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

We look to our leaders, and we must hope that they are able to bear the responsibility that comes with our tendency to follow.

In the modern day, power exists in many forms. No longer restricted to Kings, Queens, Emperors, and Empresses, power now is held in the soft and delicate hands of ordinary people, under extraordinary circumstances.

So who are our figures of power? And what control do they hold over us, as a community?

Power exists not as an isolated concept. What is power, if we are they who define it, and if it is we who have the first form of it, that decides who wears it the heaviest? The community controls power, to whom it falls, and, to some extent, in what fashion it is used. We vote on election days for our leaders, who we know we will look to in times of crisis, and who we are aware will have the power to make or break us, but only because we have decided that they ought to.

We read books and magazines, and attend concerts and films, and in doing so, we offer power to our favourite actors, musicians, artists, authors, models, and more. We decide who sits at the head of our society. We control that which will control us.

But what is power to those to whom it is attributed? Does it exist primarily as a construct they think little of? Do they realise the magnitude of their control? Do they feel its weight upon them, or do they brush it off as unimportant?

Tabloids and gossip magazines are quick to emphasise the power held by celebrities. She wore that, and now all of the little girls in the schoolyards are begging their mothers to let them wear it too. He bought that, so the little boys think it’s the best thing in the world. We live under a celebrity influence, and we must acknowledge the use to which they put our subscription to their every move.

Celebrity and fame exist as an industry. If our favourite actress stars in a film, we are more likely to pay for tickets to see it. If a company endorses a band to advertise their product, we are more likely to assume its decency, and empty our pockets to purchase it. Power, among celebrities, is the ability to alter the way in which we live our lives, the phrases we say, the clothes we wear, and the media we choose to consume. Power, in this case, is subtle, yet strong, and undeniably effective.

So too, we have a formal type of power that rules us, stemming from our governments, and our national leaders. Do they always use it well? No. Sometimes, our leaders impose taxes we cannot afford, cut aid that is irrefutably necessary, and backtrack on the promises that had us believing they were worthy of the power we bequeathed them in the first place. Here, power is multi-facetted, and clear to us as a society, and we accept it, s