Essay and Answer Writing

“To test a man’s character, give him power”

Abraham Lincoln once said “nearly all men can stand adversity. If you want to test a man’s character, give him power”. At the time of an adversity, all humans are pushed to limits. One has to be able to cope with it, show strength and determination. However, the real test of a human’s strength and nature is to observe how they behave from a position of power, not weakness. When a man gets hold of power and status, only then does he reveal his true character and moral values. Often, the cruelty and immorality of human nature are revealed when leadership and control is bestowed upon an individual. How an individual treats their power determines their true colours. 
 
Adversity and Power
Adversity is an unpleasant or distressing situation or incident. It can be brought due to multiple reasons that may include ill health, misfortune, natural calamity, hardship, etc. Therefore it can make one think that disasters and adversities would dampen our human spirit and not bring out the best in us, but this is not the case. Adversity does not shape us as dangerously as we presume and nearly everyone can handle it. There are ample examples that prove that adversities in fact can bring the best out in a person. With nothing to lose but everything to gain, we are motivated to fight till the end. 
 
Adversity reminds us about the frailty of living which on its own is a vital ingredient needed to help us confirm the reality of our existence. Adversities re-awaken us and makes us aware of the frivolity of life, thereby making us reflect on the true mortality of our being. Adversities set us on the path of self-realisation and make us conscious of the nothingness of our ego. Therefore, there is rarely any man who goes through the furnace of adversity that does not come out better - at least in character. Adversities take us down from the height of personality to the realm of character.
 
Unlike adversity however, in the influence of power an individual need not always come out better. Power is the ability or capacity to do something a particular way. Power may be adorned in multiple ways: one may have political power, power to free speech, power within an organisation, power in a family, etc. Power may be derived legitimately or through coercion. In terms of power, it refers to the capability of an individual to influence the behaviour of another person so that another person will act in accordance with the individual wishes. This implies a potential that need not be actualised to be effective and a relationship of dependency. It underlies the whole spectrum of means for influencing behaviour of emulation, suggestion, persuasion and coercion. It simply means that the more power a person has will provide more effectiveness of that person's influence system.
 
A person in power may choose to wield their influence in multiple ways – and this reveals their true character:
 
·The person can use factual evidence and logical arguments to convince the other person 
·Inspire: make a proposal of request that creates enthusiasm by appealing to the other person’s values, ideals and aspiration 
·Consultation: seek the other person’s participation to plan a strategy, change or activity for which the other person's assistance and support are needed, or the person is willing to adjust a proposal to deal with the other person’s concerns and suggestions.
·Exchange: offer an exchange of favours indicating willingness in reciprocating at a later time 
·Personal Appeal: appeal to the other person’s feelings of loyalty and friendship towards the other person before asking the other person to do something or before making a request.
·Coalition: seek the aid of other people to persuade the other person to do things or use the support of other people as a reason for the other person to agree.
·Pressure: demands, threats, persistent reminders or intimidation to influence the other person to do want that person wants and to gain compliance.
 
Why is the position of power a true test?
Unlike adversity, power is a deceptive elevation of the human ego and a form of adrenaline because instead of character, it feeds the personality we have within us. Trickily, power elevates us above the realm of our true human nature, and most times it sets us on a self-destructive battle of self-importance. A man endowed with power is like water at elevated temperature. In its true natural state, water is ever so calm and could handle anything that comes its way. However, under elevated temperature, water boils and burns, hurts and harms, and dangerously goes off into an uncontrollable state of vapour and steam.
 
Not surprisingly, the authenticity of the statement is found in several spheres of human relationships. It is found with the man entrusted with the duty to serve as leader over his fellow countrymen, who turns a dictator overnight. History has no shortage of disastrous rulers:
 
·Rulers have been homicidal, like Nero or Genghis Khan
·incompetent, like Edward II
·completely untrustworthy, like Charles I
·amiable but inadequate, like Louis XVI of France or Tsar Nicholas II.
 
Conclusion
“With great power comes great responsibility” – power in simple terms refers to the ability to influence decision making. Nehru and Mandela are two individuals who have set examples on how to wield and relinquish power responsibly. This applies not just in terms of ends, actual results, but also means, the thought processes that go into producing those ends. Power and an individual’s decision making, behaviour and acts while wielding it make one’s true character evident.



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