The quote “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is a well-known one attributed to the British historian Lord Acton (nineteenth century). What is rarely discussed after someone quotes these words are the different ways that power can and does corrupt.
The assumption is that too much power diminishes an individual’s capacity or inclination to render “good works” on behalf of others. At the same time, it increases his or her capacity or inclination to generate malice in the world.
When watching TV reports and reading Internet posts about Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s attempt to stand down protesters calling for his removal, the 82-year-old does not come across as someone whom power has enticed to consciously wreak havoc in the lives of people he claims to love and serve. Writing from this distance of many miles across the Atlantic Ocean, it seems more as if power has convinced him that he is doing the one most important thing he can do on behalf of his country by struggling to hold on to a position he has occupied for nearly 30 years. But from the images of people weeping, dying, and shouting in the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, Mansoura, and Aswan, it is clear that history is begging—and in many cases tweeting–– to differ.
Chaos or Revolution?
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As Egypt howls and history tweets – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.
© January 2011