I was doing my readings this afternoon regarding the separation of powers, constitution, judicial system and so on, so forth.
Came across this quote, which though dripping with Madisonian cynicism, speaks much truth
“power gradually extirpates from the mind every humane and gentle virtue”
– Edmund Burke
Now, the Englishman seems to be a fan of big words while I’m not, so for the poor souls out there like myself, here’s what a search turned out.
extirpate |ˈekstərˌpāt| verb
root out and destroy completely:
The power here, refers to parliamentary power at the very least. Specifically, it was addressing the presidential powers and the need for checks and balances in order for absolutism to be prevented. It is a very tangible, worldly, and real power.
But what’s scary about power, is not the tangible part of it, but the intangible. It is the portion of it that is able to seep into our skins without our realization until we become so heavily intoxicated that our moral compasses cease to function.
Most of us will never get the chance to taste this presidential power, but it is often us who give lifeless objects, items, values and goals to power to turn around and seize control of us.
Nothing can have such absolute power over us unless we grant it to them. I mean yes, except for God himself of course, if there really is a need to insert some form of Christian disclaimer in here.
Such a strong reminder today, for me to reflect on what I’ve been granting power to. Perhaps as we law students study about the checks and balances of the government, executive and legislature ( and you know all the bull that comes after this), we (as in all of us) should start holding checks and balances over our own lives.
To decide on what matters and what doesn’t.
And to ensure that the humane and gentle virtues on which much was meant to be accomplished on, isn’t rooted out and destroyed completely as we erroneously grant the wrong things, a disproportional amount of power.
Or any power at all.
P.S The feeling of trying to finish a considerably heavy piece of reading and having over twenty pages more to go when you’ve spent almost the whole afternoon on it when you find out that the last twenty pages are but bibliography references. Pretty sweet 😉