I have been reading Mary Jo Leddy’s book, “Radical Gratitude”. Diana Butler Bass recommended it during her talk in Peterborough a few weeks back. Mary Jo Leddy is a Canadian Roman Catholic Sister who has taught at Regis College and works with refugees in Toronto. The book is brilliant. Here is one insight that has me thinking:
Mary Jo cites the common axiom that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” but then observes that powerlessness is also corrupting. Powerlessness leads to resentment, cynicism, jealousy, hatred and even fantasies of revenge. (p. 82) She argues that North America is seething with resentment because we are flooded with images of wealth. Advertising not only creates desire for goods but creates resentment amongst those of us who will never have the life depicted in the ads.
As I continue to think about the shooting in Texas, the shooting in Vegas, and countless other acts of violence I am convinced that Mary Jo is on to a deeper understanding of what is happening in our society.
Mary Jo points out that many working for social change are actually affected by the corruption of powerlessness. They don’t actually believe they can make a difference and so wind up sabotaging their own good efforts. We can imagine better ways but we may not truly believe we can achieve those better ways.
I have not finished the book and so can’t give you a neat conclusion to this blog post but she has me thinking and I promise to tell you where it all leads.