The worlds of politics and gossip are fixated on the arrest and indictment of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for multiple first-degree felony counts, including allegedly committing a criminal sex act, attempted rape and sexual abuse -- all against a maid in a $3,000.00 a night hotel suite during a visit to New York City. The International Monetary Fund is a prestigious organization in global economics. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was also the most likely politician to unseat President Nicolas Sarkozy in the coming French elections. In short, he could have been (and many thought he would have been) the next president of France. What could he have wanted that he could not have bought or manipulated for himself? What drove him to impose himself upon a fellow human in such a brutal way?
What drove President Bill Clinton to have sex in the White House with a young woman while he was the most publically scrutinized person in the world? What could have driven him to have sex with a young woman under any circumstances? What drove Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to have sex with a housekeeper who tended his wife and children for two decades and who worked in the same house with them? What drove a US senator to seek gay sex from an unknown man -- who turned out to be a police officer -- in an airport restroom and the governor of New York to buy sex from a young female prostitute while he campaigned against immorality? What attracted these powerful people to risk everything and then to loose everything?
Perhaps they were not powerful at all. How could they be powerful if the opportunity for sex attracted them more than creating world peace, eradicating hunger and disease, healing the environment, freeing the oppressed, protecting the defenseless, and contributing to the collective wellbeing in ways they were privileged to do? How could they be powerful if grasping for sex was more important to them than their families, children, and those who trusted them? Each was extraordinarily successful at manipulation and control, but as millions of us are now understanding, the ability to manipulate and control is not authentic power. It is only power over things external, such as people and circumstances. External power comes and goes, as Mr. Strauss-Kahn has discovered and those who are following his self-created difficulties are witnessing.
The only thing that Dominique Strauss-Kahn could have wanted that external power could not have attained for him was a sense of self-worth, of belonging to life, of being lovable and loving. These are experiences of authentic power. They must be created and the process is as challenging as it is transformative. It is the journey from unempowered to empowered, from victim to creator, from emptiness to meaning, and from pain to joy. Raping a maid cannot produce it. Directing the International Monetary Fund cannot produce it. Even becoming president of the United States cannot produce it.
This is a time to learn about ourselves, not to condemn these men. Where and when did you last impose yourself on a partner, child, colleague, or stranger in order to feel safe and valuable, even if only for a moment? In other words, when did you last act on anger, jealousy, resentment, superiority, or inferiority? Their acts are condemnable, but these men are not. They chose to pursue external power instead of create authentic power. We face the same challenges as they, and sometimes we make the same decisions they made. We can learn about ourselves from them and apply what we learn to consciously create a better, more aware, and healthier world.
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