Delivering a Martin Luther King Jr Memorial lecture, actor Kamal Haasan said that “incomplete minds that somehow manage to reach the seat of power” create inequality. He went on to say that enlightened minds are with the poor.
Power is something that attracts only “incomplete minds,” generally. Power is one way of completing oneself, filling up the blanks within. Why don’t we find scientists, philosophers (writers), artists and other such people in politics running after power? Probably, their minds are not so “incomplete.” Or they find better means of filling the blanks within: by inventing something new, thinking new ideas or creating works of art. Those who are incapable of such creative contributions hanker after power. Boss over others and prove your worth!
Imposing oneself on others is precisely what’s wrong with these incomplete minds. We find them imposing their ideas, religion, culture, food habits, dress, anything and everything on others.
Dacher Keltner, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley carried out substantial research into the nature of power. Power corrupts necessarily: that was one of his discoveries. (Nothing new in it, of course, except that he proved it with research.) Even the good people, once they reach the top of the ladder, morph into a very different kind of beast. “It’s an incredibly consistent effect,” Mr Keltner says. “When you give people power, they basically start acting like fools.”
Mr Keltner went to the extent of comparing the feeling of power to brain damage, noting that people with lots of authority tend to behave like neurological patients with a damaged orbito-frontal lobe, a brain area that’s crucial for empathy and decision-making. Even the most virtuous people can be undone by the corner office.
Power makes people less sympathetic to others. This is a psychologically proven fact. People in power rely more on certain stereotypes and generalisations while judging people.