#3 – Discovering Power in Society

This week I decided to change my topic. Because Brett Kavanagh was just confirmed to the Supreme Court, I wanted to do something about power. Over the summer I did a course called Social Problems 1 through an online school. One thing I learned a lot about was how society’s norms and values can affect people’s lives. In our society so much importance is put on wealth and power. So, what I choose was how society’s norms and values say you have to be powerful to be successful.  

The first person I talked to was my dad. My dad and I agree on a lot of issues, and we often discuss things going on in the world while listening to the news in the car. When I asked my dad if he thought that society put to much pressure on power, he responded by saying he thought it was really up to the individual. On this I disagree with him a little. I feel that when your young you’re much more susceptible to society’s norms and vales, and you are trained that when you grow up you want to have lots of money and have control. What my dad did say though is that power is highly rated in our society. Our conversation then went in the direction of our government in general. We talked about how our country is one of the most successful at having a democracy where people have equal power, but we are not completely equal. I added that we are not even close to equality and some European countries and ancient civilization have done a lot better than we are doing. He brought up that it’s much harder to have a fair democracy with a lot of people. There has to be some sort of leader, and once that leader is chosen, the distribution of power becomes distorted. Overall I think that my conversation was really impactful and in some ways it changed the way I look at certain types of power.

The next person I talked to was my mom. Our conversation went a different way than my conversation with my dad. We talked more about who deserves power and what the definition of power is. She doesn’t think that my statement is 100% percent true, but it is to a degree. She thinks that we have a choice of weather to accept society’s norms and values. In some cases I believe that it is hard to go against society, but we do have freedom of choice. We then went on to talk about how most of this depends on how you define power. For example society views artists as successful, but they might not be necessarily powerful. I went on to argue that artists have the power to affect people’s thinking. I asked her if she thought everyone with power deserved it, and if not, what would make you deserve power. She said that not everyone deserved power and you would deserve it if you used it to benefit all mankind or your thinking was backed up by rectitude. I left that conversation trying to decide if there was a clear definition for power and how to decide if someone deserved. I think that my moms definition works well though.

Finally, I talked to my 11 year old brother. I knew that I was going to have a much different conversation with him than my parents because he’s not as educated yet about what’s going on in the world. I started by asking him if he felt society told him he had to be powerful to be successful. He said definitely. He felt a lot of pressure to be powerful in the world, or to not go unnoticed. He then said he wants to be powerful when he grows up. He also feels pressure in school to be successful, and success and power are somewhat connected. I then asked him about our government and if it was fair. He said no and that people don’t always deserve the power they hold. Sometimes people want power just to benefit themselves, and that just doesn’t work. Overall I learned a lot from my three discussions and it made me want to think and learn more about power.

Alaena Hunt

10 Responses to “#3 – Discovering Power in Society

  • Colleen Kiley
    4 years ago

    Alaena,

    What a cool new topic! I’m curious to hear more about the connection you see to power and the Kavanagh confirmation.

    Here are some questions for you to think about: who does NOT have power in our country (or very little)? Why do certain groups of people have less power than others? Is that fair? Does fairness matter? Are the people who have power representative of the country as a whole? I’m curious what changes in power you would like to see in your life time.

    Thanks for keeping me thinking,
    Colleen

    • Thank you so much for your reply! I’ll be sure to think about those questions as I continue with this project. Thank you!

  • Alaena,
    Thank you for your thoughtful detailing of your topic and your three interviews! It sounds like they all went well and provoked you. I would love for you to share more about HOW this made you think about power more. Did any of your ideas change? Also, what are the different ways power is exhibited? What is YOUR own definition of power?

    Thank you for addressing this topic! I’m excited to watch your work progress.

    -Emma

    • Thank you for your reply. I think I’m going to continue with this topic so I’ll make sure to address your questions in future blog posts. Thank you!

  • Hi Alaena, I liked what you wrote above. In the country where I come from, people think that the situation of the country and everything else depends on the person in power. We are supposed to be a democratic country, but what we see is that democracy is not really real in my country of origin. People are fighting to try to vote a president who they think will change things, but none of the presidents in power has been elected by the people (falsification of ballots etc.). said your mother about it.
    I have a question about what you wrote saying that an artist has the power to affect people’s thoughts. How does an artist affect your thinking?

    • Hi Bernice,
      Thank you for your comment! I feel like artists have a sort of power over people because they can move people and bring our certain emotions that people wouldn’t have been able to find otherwise. They also affect peoples thinking by conveying their thinking, using art, into the world. Thats what my idea was at least!

  • Aleana,

    First, it was good to see you Sunday and congratulations for being selected to appear in the Young Writers Project Anthology 9!

    I agree with the commenters who preceded me — a fascinating, though complex, topic for storytelling.

    I had a question within your writing about this: “She doesn’t think that my statement is 100% percent true, but it is to a degree.” … What is your statement? Sorry if I missed that, but I think it’s important that you write something about what you think using more direct language and more detail. That will help me understand how you are going to frame this. My interpretation was that you want to do a story on how society puts pressure on us to be powerful. Or, as your brother said: “Noticed.” (And I think within your brother’s comment is some wisdom: in our culture where social media has become so important, and conventional media has become so diminished, is “being noticed” power? is “being noticed” tied to worth, or self-worth? I know this is a bit astray from your thoughts, but it occurred to me nonetheless.)

    Another point: I don’t know how much you’ve changed your topic because, in some ways, power has become (at least in Washington) the ability to buttress closed-minded belief with “alternative facts.”

    But the questions you face, really, are how to frame this and what’s the underlying point as well as what are you trying to change? Is it you want to bring to light those who are powerless? Is it that you want to show how we think power has shifted but it hasn’t? Do you want to show how more pressure is being placed on individual power?

    All good questions, complex questions. Nicely done.

    Let me know how I can help.

    geoff

    • Dear Geoff,
      Thank you so much for commenting on my piece. I agree with you that that sentence wasn’t very direct so I’ll try to be better at being direct in the future! I am looking forward to looking into power in government and the questions you asked are really helping me think about it more. Thank you so much!

  • This is such an intriguing Idea. The conversations you had with your family members made me think in so many new ways. I like how you changed your topic based on a relevant issue. I’m wondering, how do you think power can affect how a person is seen in society?
    This was great!

    • Thank you so much for your comment! I love your question and I think it is one of the questions that is guiding me. I’m not sure but I know that society norms and values affect peoples ways of thinking. Thank you!

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