Ethics quotes from “Right Use of Power”

I have been reading the most wonderful and important book by Cedar Barstow called “Right Use of Power: the Heart of Ethics“. There are so many gems of wisdom in here that I am sure I will discuss further in other posts. This post is to create a repository for these gems as they come through. If these quotes resonate or you are interested in exploring these topics further, this book is a great place to start.

“My life belongs to the whole community, as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die…When you make somebody else do something against their will, that, to me, is not power. That is force. To me, force is a negation of power…By power I mean – almost exclusively – the ability to empower” – George Bernard Shaw, p.xi

“When the generativity and responsiveness of our power is guided by loving concern for the well-being of all, we will have an ethical and sustainable world. Power directed by Heart. Heart infused with power. This is the key to right use of power” – Cedar Barstow, p.xi

“Ethical codes are not arbitrary rules or regulations. Understanding a code of ethics is similar to listening to a wisdom circle of elders sharing what they have learned” – Cedar Barstow

“Ethics are an essential guide for the work of Read more

The power of contemplation

In my post “to solve or not to solve” I referred to a process of contemplation that I have used. In his wonderful book “Anitya”, Paul Twitchell describes contemplation in the following way:

“Contemplation is to view, to consider with attention a line from a poem, scriptural verse or saying and keep going over it, wondering what the author meant…what it means to you…how it applies to philosophy or looking at it in a hundred different ways, but never trying to hold it, force it or keep it, simply being interested in it, as it holds the attention”.

Some may think of contemplation like meditation. For me, contemplation is a more active, creative and imaginative process. It is the purposeful creation of an inner experience. I do this most regularly with my eyes closed, but also I have found journaling to help me. As Paul Twitchell describes, finding a passage or quote from some inspired writings can also be powerful.

So what relevance has that to ethics or doing good?

So much attention is placed on ‘outer processes’ like thinking, analysing, discussing, and utilising tools like policies and frameworks in order to make sense of the world and better decisions. In my experience (although sometimes I forget this), dedicating time and energy to inner contemplation can be a useful and powerful tool in any aspect of one’s life. In my work, it has helped me arrive at better and more rounded decisions, and often with more grace than I would have otherwise.