Encountering Conflict Changes Those in Power and Those Without Power.

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Power is a prime instigator of conflict. In the words of Burmese democracy activist, Aung San Suu Kyi, “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” When power is at stake in conflict, fear may have an impact on those who hold power, those who lose power and those who are subject to power. Yet, when faced with overwhelming conflict, some may find, as Vaclav Havel puts it “the power of the powerless” and through conflict individuals may find they have the strength to stand up for justice and peace. When those in power face challenges to their rule, conflict may force them to commit horrific acts of cruelty and repression. When a power-hungry leader faces conflict which poses a challenge to his/her position, he/she may resort to unthinkable acts to secure his/her position. The desire for power and fear of the consequences of losing power may force someone in a position of power to turn into a cruel dictator. During the 2011 Syrian uprising, Syria’s leader committed repeated human rights abuses to cling to his power. President Bashar al-Assad, a western-trained optician and once viewed as a reformer, ordered the military to fire on protesters, with nearly 3,000 killed in the conflict. When the demand for democratic reform conflicted with Al-Assad’s fear of losing power, he transformed into a tyrant and dictator. Encountering conflict may also simply force a person in a position of power to lose power. When opposition to a person’s power is too great it may force a change, and can destroy a person who has lost his/her power. In Arthur Miller’s play, “The Crucible”, Rev. Parris is totally destroyed when he loses his standing in the community. Opposition to the witch hunts, and Proctor’s and Nurse’s heroic stands added to the impact of Abigail’s flight (
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