This is a tricky personal conundrum of mine. I'll try to articulate it clearly. I believe in compassion, and I want to live in harmony with compassionate tendencies inside. But at the same time,...
This is a tricky personal conundrum of mine. I'll try to articulate it clearly.
I believe in compassion, and I want to live in harmony with compassionate tendencies inside. But at the same time, in the act of extending compassion, there appears to be an in-built power gradient: the "giver" is somehow in an "advantaged" position, and the receiver a more disadvantaged one.
An example. I was once in a fast-food restaurant, waiting to order, and I saw the order-taker was obviously new and very nervous and skittish at her job. So after I placed my order I expressed how much I appreciate her service and that I thought she was doing a good job. It was truly what I wanted to say, and I thought she took this well, like, she looked more relaxed as she beamed.
But then there was a power gradient. I gave her something that she wouldn't/couldn't have given me. She was the more distressed one, and this power gradient emphasized that. I don't mean that bystanders were made more conscious of her distress. I mean, it had the potential to make me more conscious of my privilege and her her lack thereof.
And I'm aversive to power. I can be highly sceptical and critical of power. I don't feel easy to have power over someone else. I have had troubled relations with power figures in my life. I easily confuse the natural, benign activation of power with the reflexive, defensive, "shields-up" reaction that I often find myself in. To explain a bit, the latter is really a form of anxiety, perhaps a trauma from experiences of hypercompetition, isolation, and emotional neglect in the past.
In the end, I thirst after commonality, equality, brothersisterhood, close and meaningful contact with others as they are, as human beings, on level ground, side by side, sharing the common condition in our vulnerabilities... But there's this aspect of my character, i.e. the tendency to get tense and look for a "higher ground" and occupy there, just to be on the safe (more powerful!) side. There's this haughty, difficult-to-approach, high-brow me, that I feel get in the way.
I fee sad and somewhat confused about this. I think I'm partly venting, partly asking about your similar experiences. Please consider this topic fairly open-ended. If you have something to say about it, I'm eager to listen to you.