May 17, 2021
It has occurred to me that the observing and discussing public may be confusing personal and internal power with authority. John was definitely my supervisor. He was definitely the final decision maker. He was definitely in charge. And in addition to having the authority of his position as my supervisor, he has held — and still holds — the power of influence over the public. He has the power of a podcast feed. He can make up some narrative anytime he wants and promote it to the world whether or not it has any modicum of truth. He’s been doing that for years.
And in addition, he holds the power of adoring donors. All he has to do is pretend he’s being victimized by someone (even if he’s not) and people throw money at him. He’s really got a lot of people eating out of his fingers.
He has repetitively used all of these powers against me to harm me. He has retaliated viciously and mercilessly. The power imbalance between us was and is, even now, striking. His incredible power relative to mine has been a very destructive force in my life.
And, at the same time, I am a person who has a lot of inherent and internal power. My power comes from life experience and a lot of inborn talent and capability. I can’t take credit for the inborn part — it’s just the way I came into this world. But I can take credit for being a hard worker. And as a result of these “powers” within me (if you want to call them that), I was a better and more capable employee than John. The organization thrived under my leadership because I am inherently a good leader. But these personal attributes — this power that came from me and is held within me because of skills I was born with and what I’ve accomplished considering where I came from — did not at all mean that John wasn’t my supervisor who ultimately held an excessive and malignant amount of power over me in my employment.
I suppose the Open Stories Foundation would like to claim that since I was such a capable and good employee and since I was a good leader, John and I were somehow “equals” in the organization. They can point to the way I had an inherent power of my own, I suppose. But me coming to the Open Stories Foundation with inherent capability and an internal power did not make John and I equals in the organization. Me being a better employee than John did not make me his equal in authority. (Of course not… duh.) If we had been equals, the Open Stories Foundation wouldn’t have gotten rid of their better employee in favor of their worse one. If anything, me bringing my internal power and my capability to an organization that did not reward me fairly only intensifies the extent to which I was exploited.
At the Open Stories Foundation, John has all the power. And he wields all the power. I am not the only person who has worked with him who is criticizing him for his misuse of power. John wields his power so irresponsibly that many people are afraid of him. They’re afraid of what he might do to them with his podcast feed. They’re afraid of how he might try to ruin their lives in the real world if they speak out against him. They’re afraid he might use his power to harm them the way he has used his power to harm me.
Part of John’s success comes from using his power to engender fear.
Yes, I can agree that using the kind of power that evokes fear is also an indicator of inherent internal weakness and even cowardice. People who have true, inherent, and internal power don’t need to seek positions of power and authority and then use fear against others. People who have true, inherent, and internal power don’t need to silence people and then proclaim false narratives from podcasts. People who have true, inherent, and internal power don’t need to retaliate. Yes, the fact that John has done these things is an indicator of personal weakness. But at the same time, the fact that I am inherently a stronger person than John does not also mean that John wasn’t my supervisor and didn’t hold the authority he so flagrantly misuses.
My capability aside John’s authority does not somehow translate into an “equals” sign.
The idea that John and I were “equals” in the organization is just a common legal argument the Open Stories Foundation is promoting to protect John. And it’s a weak argument because it is so obviously false. The fact that they’re promoting it makes them look bad, IMO. Look at the outcome. It’s very obvious who was wielding what kind of power. Anyone who really wants to look will be able to see.
May 15, 2021
In offender-victim relationships there must be, by definition, a power imbalance. The offender is the person who has the greater amount of power. The victim is the person who has the lesser amount of power.
Individuals who are not offenders who are in powerful positions will NOT employ offender strategies of engagement and concealment. Rather, they will work as honestly as possible before, during and after the situation. They will seek to resolve conflicts in a manner that is as close to fair as possible for all parties. Thus, having power doesn’t necessarily make someone an offender. (Of course it doesn’t!) There are many great people who have power who are not offenders. But, when trying to evaluate a particular situation to discern whether or not there is an offender and a victim rather than two people of equal power, one must evaluate power imbalances and how power was used by the more powerful party.
It is generally very easy to see and evaluate power imbalances. All one has to do is look at the outcome of any particular situation. Who benefitted? Who was exploited? What was the outcome for the party with more power? What was the outcome for the party with less power?