How do you translate power?


Look at those who cause harm

My university students love to talk about power.

It comes with being youthful and curious.

But the key is to dig deeper, and ask, how power is fueled and what forms does it take?

To assess power with clear vision, we need to let facts and information guide us: not the other way around.

Better to look at real evidence rather than rely on what individuals say or what they profess to believe.

Better to look at their actions and their motivations.

The current torrent of moral and political upheaval leaves me yearning for both an anchor and a guidepost.

My anchor is an admixture of family values and life’s lessons: a combination of grounded beliefs and evidence.

And I share these values with many, many individuals, including fellow Americans and other citizens of the world.

Most of us believe honesty and integrity are sound values, and that we should approach others with respect.

But the world I confront in the headlines has turned honesty and integrity upside-down.

And the evidence points to the root of this upheaval: those wielding power over others are causing harm.

When I look deeper into what power means and its sources—rather than what people say—the reality is clear.

The individuals who were elected to guide our country are making decisions that affect all of us and our children and grandchildren with an eye to harm.

They are guided by their own self-interest and ambition.

Evidence is concrete, and the list is as long as a highway.

Here are the most egregious and most obvious, with supporting facts embedded in hyperlinks:

The current US tax proposal overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy and top corporations, and the linkages with those in power crystal clear,

Healthcare costs will skyrocket under the new plan, leaving the poor and lower-middle-class to scrape by, causing irreversible harm,

Leaders of our most powerful decision-makers at the Cabinet level are among the nation’s wealthiest, and each has shown a clear conflict of interest that enables them to favor their own interests rather than the interests of the citizens of our country,

Political leaders who treat women as chattel continue to hold positions of authority despite mounting evidence of their abuses of women,

Our cherished mountains, rivers, forests and landscapes are being sold off to mining companies, oil executives and cattle ranchers with whom our leaders have financial investments,

Hillary Clinton won the 2016 presidential election’s popular vote, thanks to your and my ballots, but the immoral practices of gerrymandering have tipped the outmoded electoral college in favor of Republican interests, extinguishing our votes,

This is a short list but it shows with acute clarity how power is unleashed.

What we don’t see is perhaps the most critical feature of this topsy-turvy political landscape:

The individuals who enable these egregious actions.

Shame on our elected representatives, PR flaks and news reporters who excuse the abuses of those in power by looking the other way.

Shame on the worker-bees who toil for the decision-makers whose special interests corrupt our system of governance.

Shame on those who know the difference between kindness and harm, between truth and lies, and between self-interest and care for others, and who have done nothing to prevent the abuses of power.

Shame on the headline writers whose strategy is to gain readers for their  advertisers rather than holding our leaders accountable.

And shame on those who use their power for their own benefit rather than helping their fellow humans.


10 December 2017






Edel Rodriguez designed Der Speigel’s 4 February 2017 cover


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in alternative facts, american indian, bears ears, ethics, lies, politics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How do you translate power?

  1. Oh Cynthia, you have said what must be said, and doe so without holding anything back. I find I have way to truly comprehend the abuse of power, the greed, and the cruelty of those who are in power, and who believe in destroying all that is good in order to accumulate more wealth and power. Inevitably, this will turn out badly, even for them, but it will harm very many in the process. They stand for all we were taught not to be. No matter they despise us.


  2. Cynthia, my laptop appears to have a mind of its own…. should be “done so” in the first sentense. The last line was “no wonder they despise us.” Sure wish we could so easily correct the current situation….


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