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The core of our conflicts is the desire for power, as we cannot withstand the

possibility of being powerless.

‘Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present

controls the past.’ O’Brien’s haunting words from George Orwell’s

dystopian novel 1984 allude to how often an authority’s goal in

conflict is to possess complete and utter control over society’s

thoughts and reality, embodying their thirst for ultimate power. This

depictionof a tyrannical government’s quest for infallibledomination

may seem a little extremist, but in fact, most of the conflicts of history,

both vast and petty, can be stripped down to reveal that eventually,

our conflicts result from a desire to find or defend our power. For us

everyday citizens, power does not necessarily signify global

domination, but simply the control we have over our decisions,

thoughts, and future. We all desire and essentially need some kind of

power in our lives and can go to immense lengths to maintain it, but

we also bear witness to the often devastating ramifications that erupt

in humankind’s perpetual battle for power.

Fundamentally, the notion of power is subjective, and the extent

to which it is desired varies between individuals and between

authorities. For many, power can simply equate to freedom. How

unbearably powerless would we be if we no longer had the freedom

to make our own choices, to think openly and without oppression?

For many of the ambitious and dominating, power extends beyond

the concept to become a yearning for control. To have the ability to

dictate others’ lives and to remove their freedom at will can be a

threatening, but nevertheless tempting, prospect. Therefore, if

anybody threatens to diminish our freedoms, we instinctively

protest, and the conflict shapes itself to become an intricate balance

between letting society be governed peacefully and maintaining our

own individual power. However, often this intricate social order is

upset and for better or for worse, we may find ourselves fighting to

regain our power as authorities also struggle to attain control,

resulting in ramifications that can be both beneficial and devastating.

A common saying goes along the lines that ‘knowledge is power’,

and indeed, the awareness we have of our existence and our desire to

perpetually learn has become a valuable form of power. Yet, our

discoveries often come at a cost, as controversies and new

perspectives can cause social upheaval. Authorities attempt to step

The Fight

For Power

Gillian Lim