Power could be dangerous. People in power can do so much for the good or the bad. This thought came to me in such a simple way. I was once sitting in a chapel listening to a lecture. My attention was drawn toward two boys, brothers, maybe. I say “maybe” because they did not look alike. Judging from how they behaved, though, I could safely say they are brothers.

The smaller of the two kept sticking his tongue out at, the older one. When the younger one came close to his older sibling, he made funny faces at him and threw some punches. The older one’s hands were being held by the mother as if deliberately restraining him. Well, before long, the elder one managed a flying kick. It was significant that the elder one did not show signs of impatience or grave irritation. I was amazed and, at the same time, pleasantly surprised that the elder boy looked quite detached. The younger one got wise and decided to stay away but continued to stick out his tongue. He got on his knees, pretending to roar at his brother like a lion from a distance. Then I caught myself. I caught myself getting caught in their quarrel. Of course, guiltily, I closed my eyes to compose myself and bring myself back to the lecture to which I was supposed to be fully attentive.

I took this little incident home with me that evening. As I pondered on it more, I realized that, objectively, the elder one had so much control. Just observing the size and age of the elder boy reveals that he clearly had power over his brother: I thought that if they were not in Church, the elder one could have grabbed the younger one by the neck, wrestled with him till he fell to the ground and given him left and right punches. Also, by keeping “his distance,” he had the power and the control because the little one was tiring himself out while he was standing calmly with the benefit of being held by his mother.

Nevertheless, it is easy to see who has the physical power in a relationship such as this. It is easy to tell who will win should a match of strength occur. I guess it was pretty much like that with the unbalanced match of David and Goliath. Everyone thought it was a sure win for Goliath. Nobody ever thinks a small and seemingly weak opponent can grab the win. The same is true between warring nations. During the time of conquerors and dynasties, the idea was to make one’s domain big and powerful. Big and mighty is powerful; if physical power is used, it seems to yield even more power.

We are speaking of physical power. The one that conquers the most for himself is powerful. The one that gives the most blows and knocks out the opponent is powerful. What, then, is all this power for? Is it for self-aggrandizement? Then what?

If a bigger child wants to win against a smaller one, it could be the easiest thing on earth. If a wealthy nation wants control over a poorer nation, that too is easy. All that needs to be done is violence—physical violence or violence by violating human rights, negating privileges, and a total disregard for the individual.

Now if our goal is peace, harmony, prosperity, happiness for the greater majority, and the just distribution of wealth and opportunities, significant ingredients are patience and humility.

The elder boy was patient. He did not make the little one get the better of him. He was humble enough to take all that aggression and resist the temptation to fight his brother back in a fistfight or a word war. Thanks to the mother also, the fight did not ensue. But as I said, this boy was really understanding and patient. Not once did he show grave irritation, and I want to give him credit for that. The flying kick seemed like a tease.

We cannot say the same thing for ourselves. We certainly would swat a spider or an ant even if they do us no immediate harm. It is so easy for hospitals and other institutions to turn away the poor because they do not have the capacity to pay and no peso power. I could go on and on.

Then I think of this great wonderful mighty, and powerful God who is patient and merciful. How many times have we wronged Him? How many times have we stuck our tongues out at Him when we disobey His commandments? Yet He never wields His power on us. He does not give us what we truly deserve. If He did, we would have the same fate as the ants, spiders, or even cockroaches under someone’s foot.

God’s definition of power is not conquering us and tying us down like slaves so we can be fully subservient to Him. His power is manifested in His gentle and humble love for us. By loving us in spite of our weaknesses, He enables us to pick ourselves up from the heavy blows life gives us with renewed strength and confidence in the power of His love.

Jesus Our Light

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