“Power versus Force”—How’s that Working for Us?

“Power versus Force”—How’s that Working for Us?

“Without changing our patterns of thought we will not be able to solve theproblems we created 
with our current patterns of thought.”

Russell L. Ackoff

The Wars on…!

Remember the “War on Drugs”“War on Poverty”“War on Obesity”“War on Terror”? How do you suppose these wars are working out for us so far? Here are some numbers to help put the cost of these wars in perspective. Since President Nixon declared war on drugs in 1971, we’ve spent well over $1 trillion—over $51 billion annually. Our criminal justice system currently incarcerates 2.3 million people. An overwhelming number of these prisoners are incarcerated because of nonviolent drug crimes involving the dreaded marijuana. Most of the funding for the war has gone to interdiction and eradication with an abysmal success rate. As a matter of fact, study after study reveals unequivocally that the war is not only ineffective, it’s counterproductive. Our war contributes to increased drug overdoses while creating and sustaining powerful drug cartels. Now, our medical establishment and Big Pharma are major contributors to the crisis. Our ‘war on drugs’ helped create the opioid crisis, yet we continue to escalate the war with hopes of winning it.

As for the war on poverty, the cost nears $22 trillion, the poverty rates are about the same since President Johnson declared the war in 1964. An estimated 43.1 million Americans live in poverty. About 15 million—21%—of our children either go to bed hungry or eat food that ultimately creates future health problems of monumental proportions. Thirty-five developed countries have fewer children living in poverty than the good old U.S. of A. We’re #35; Mexico comes in at 36. 

The War on terror fairs no better than the other wars. U.S. citizens have spent $5.6 trillion—that’s about $23,386 per taxpayer since September 12, 2001. That doesn’t take into consideration lives lost or psychic costs of physically and mentally mangled Americans. Let’s not even consider lives and the emotional tolls taken globally of innocent civilians. 16 years have passed since we “liberated” Afghanistan the single country targeted for the “War on Terror.” Since then the war has spread to “no less than 76 countries, 39% of those on the planet.” The longest war in the history of these United States continues with no end in sight. Just a side note, from 2016 to 2017, the area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan increased by 63% with an estimated increase of total opium production by 87%.

As for the war on obesity we’re spending $343 billion annually—as we watch these numbers rise every year. We’ll leave it at that!

Also, as an FYI, this is not an attack on any political party. It is a bipartisan—red, blue, and independent issue that can only be resolved through collaboration—not through force!

The War on Each Other:

Now that I’ve cheered you up, what can we do about it? Systems thinker and Professor Emeritus of Management Science at the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania Russell L. Ackoff states simply that, “Without changing our patterns of thought we will not be able to solve the problems we created with our current patterns of thought.” This parallels the same thinking of Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Unfortunately, we limit ourselves to our existing mental models and habits of thought—what we know and how we conditionally behave. Until we lift our mental-model-veil, we will remain unable to tap into our imaginations—our only way out of this Bill Murry Groundhog Daypattern of living. 

Newton’s Third Law states that, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” In other words, the size of the force on the first object equals the force of the second object. What’s happening in our country today provides a perfect example of Newton’s law. We are becoming a divided nation as deeply as anytime in our brief history. The current pattern of thought seems to be either we win, or we lose. If we win, then you lose. At first glance it appears that the “winner” exerts a greater force successfully. Not true. Remember, each force is the same size—"for every action there is ‘equal’ and opposite reaction.” Forcing others to do something they don’t want to do results in a counter force. We may not always see the complete effect of the initial cause (win or lose), but rest assured, the reaction will be as great as the initial action—it’s the universal law as tried and true as gravity! We may not know when and where that equal and opposite reaction shows up but show up it will. How long can an entire nation—or world for that matter—peacefully and joyfully sustain itself? What if we altered our current pattern of thought from force to power?

Power Versus Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior, by Dr. David Hawkins:

Power and Force are often confused as being the same. Not so! Sir David Hawkins, MD, PhD, psychiatrist, and author in his book Power versus Forcedefines force supporting Isaac Newton’s Third Law—the one mentioned above. Power, on the others hand, is something else entirely. The book explains the connection between individual levels of consciousness and human behavior. Let’s let the master explain the difference between power versus force.

“Force always creates counterforce; its effect is to polarize rather than unify. Polarization always implies conflicts; its cost, therefore, is always high. Because force incites polarization, it inevitably produces a win/lose dichotomy; and because somebody always loses, enemies are created. Constantly faced with enemies, force requires constant defense. Defensiveness is invariably costly, whether in the marketplace, politics, or international affairs.”

“In looking for the source of power, we’ve noted that it’s associated with meaning, and this meaning has to do with the significance of life itself. Force is concrete, literal, and arguable. It requires proof and support. The sources of power, however, are inarguable and aren’t subject to proof. The self-evident isn’t arguable. That health is more important than disease, that life is more important than death, that honor is preferable to dishonor, that faith and trust are preferable to doubt and cynicism, that the constructive is preferable to the destructive—all are self-evident statements not subject to proof. Ultimately, the only thing we can say about the source of power is that it just “is.”

“Force automatically creates counter-force. Power is still. Gravity itself doesn’t move against anything. Its power moves all objects within its field., but the gravity field itself does not move.”

If “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (Einstein of course), isn’t it time we challenge the ineffectiveness of force while adapting and nurturing the absolute power of power?

Grant Stewart