Sunday, September 12, 2010

Love thy name is social change

What has ‘development’ got to do with ‘love’ and how does ‘power’ relate to ‘love’? Power without love produces ‘development’ that destroys everything we hold dear, argues Adam Kahane, as collision of immoral power with powerless morality constitutes the major crises of our time. Having worked around the world on a variety of challenges ranging from economic development to judicial reform and from food security to climate change, Kahane persuasively argues that a symbiosis of power and love alone can achieve lasting social change.

Kahane delves deeply in the dual nature of power and love, exploring their complex and intricate interplay, but mocks at the idea of applying ‘best practices’ solutions from the past to solve problems. Not only are the problems of our time generatively complex but the future is fundamentally unfamiliar and undetermined, that seeks new set of ‘next practice’ solutions. Waging war against problems may not offer solutions, creating space and scope for collective creation holds promise.

Highly relevant to the global challenges we face today, Power and Love is about the hope and possibility that comes from committing oneself to making a difference in the world. Drawing from his experience of conducting social change workshops across different continents, the author contends that our destruction of aboriginal societies worldwide and our headlong rush towards the destruction of the ecosystems arise from our disconnection from one another and from the earth.

Kahane argues that love connects and creates opening, potential and opportunity, but power is required for these to be tested and realized. However, dialogue that does not acknowledge and work with power therefore cannot create new social realities. In fact, each needs the other. As Martin Luther King put it, ‘Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.’

Power and Love should be read and re-read by leaders in the private, public and social sectors. In his extraordinarily insightful and powerful analysis, Kahane debunks George Bush’s doctrine that ‘if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem’ by presenting an alternative formulation: ‘if you’re not part of the problem, you can’t be part of the solution’. Moving from power to love enables us to see more clearly how we are part of the problem and therefore how we can be part of the solution.

It is an inspiring narrative that is immensely readable for those who are not only empathetic to social change but are looking at ways and means of co-creating new social realities....Link

Power and Love: A Theory & Practice of Social Change 
by Adam Kahane 
Tata McGraw Hill, New Delhi; 172 pages, Rs 250

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