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The Effects Of Power On Responsibility

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The Effects of Power on Responsibility

Power and responsibility have a complex relationship that is connected by factors such as a person’s morals and ethics, personality, and under what conditions the person was raised. In a world where power can be found in many forms and in many places, the use and abuse of power can be seen regularly. Power is not just being the CEO of a fortune five-hundred company, or being an elected political representative, the manager of Taco Bell has power, as well as parents as they raise their children. These are the people who have the most influence on how power is used, and if it is used with responsibility. In the United states there are five-hundred and thirty-five congressmen, a president, and a vice-president, whereas there are two-hundred and ninety-eight million citizens. Elected officials represent a microscopic piece of the population, while the citizens are the ones who raise children, teach children, and own and operate businesses, and ultimately keep the country running. Real power lies within the common person, and their use of power to influence those around them to have higher standards of responsibility and morals, because if responsibility is taught well and people have good morals, the use of power will not be abused.

When a person is given power, they become more responsible to society, because that power should give them the ability to accomplish certain things that were previously out of their reach. But that does not mean that their morals, or view of their responsibility to society has changed, it means that they now have the capacity to accomplish things that they could only have imagined before they gained their power. If Lance Armstrong had not been a world class cyclist and a cancer survivor, the Lance Armstrong Foundation would probably not have been such a great success, but since he was a great cyclist and a cancer survivor, he had the power to make such a foundation a great success. But who is to say that the Lance Armstrong, pre-six Tour-de-France victories would not have wanted to make a foundation for cancer? He simply did not have the power to start a foundation for cancer. But once he gained the power, it gave him a means to the end. Often we have ideas that would show great amounts of responsibility, but simply cannot put them into action because we do not have power, and in this way power has a great effect on responsibility. Power does not always change a person’s morals or responsibility, it just gives them the opportunity to achieve greater things that they may not have been able to accomplish before they gained their power.

An increase in responsibility will change a person’s use of power because they may do things for the good of other people that are not necessarily looking out for themselves. In the case of Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, his level of responsibility was increased when he became the man in charge of a squad of marines. Many people believe that his actions were crimes against humanity, but in his situation he used his power responsibly to try to heel the men he was responsibly for alive. An article by Josh White of the Washington Post says:

Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, 26, told his attorney that several civilians were killed Nov. 19 when his squad went after insurgents who were firing at them from inside a house. The Marine said there was no vengeful massacre, but he described a house-to-house hunt that went tragically awry in the middle of a chaotic battlefield.”

In the circumstances, Staff Sgt. Wuterich kept the marines he was responsible for alive. Although tragedy did occur, in that situation tragedy was bound to occur, and he used his power in a responsible manner so as to be sure the tragedy was not on his side. Perhaps the lack of responsibility was on the side of the insurgents who detonated a bomb next to a convoy of marine Humvee’s in a civilian neighborhood, knowing that the probably response after killing a marine and firing on the marine convoy would be the marines trying to clear the area of hostiles. In the situation of clearing houses while being shot at and not knowing what or who could be lurking through any doorway or around any corner, what Wuterich did was not an abuse of his power, it was using his power responsibly for the wellbeing of his men, which was his priority. It would be irresponsible to charge an on duty marine, who was being fired upon, with murder when the retaliation was in self defense. Any responsibly military officer would have acted in the same manner, because their power was to be used for the wellbeing of those they were responsible for. An article from the Boston Globe says:

“ ’My responsibility as a squad leader is to make sure that none of the rest of my guys died,’ Wuterich told CBS.

Wuterich said he was sorry women and children died, but he believes he was acting according to how he’d been trained.

вЂ?Did we know that civilians were in there? No,’ Wuterich told CBS.”

Although Wuterich cannot be called entirely innocent or guilty, he did act responsibly in the situation he was thrown into.

When Joseph Knecht goes before the Board and says his circular, he is doing what he sees to be responsible, because telling his colleagues that there does exist an “impending doom of the entire body of Masters, the entire order, and the entire hierarchyвЂ¦Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (Hesse 367). Not telling the Board would be an abuse of his power because he saw it as his responsibility to make sure all his peers were aware of the absolute destiny of their world. The Board acted irresponsibly because they knew that an end was inevitable, and did nothing about it. The Board, as a governing body, should have the best interest of the people in mind, and not coming to terms with an impending doom does not seem very responsible. The Board’s response shows the ignorance



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