I first heard the term empower in college. As a social worker often empowerment is discussed as empowering disenfranchised people; a verb. An action done to those that lack privilege because of race, gender, socioeconomic status or other facet of identity. It is described as a giving of power from those with privilege to those that lack privilege. Yet, where does this power come from? What assumptions are made about power in this giver and receiver dichotomy?
I'm coming to the realization that empowerment is not about the transfer of power from one person that holds it to another that doesn't. I do not believe there is a shortage of power or that it is a finite resource that needs to mined or hoarded. Empowerment is when a person comes to realization of what lies within them already- talents, energy, dreams, vision, passion. It is already there waiting to be woken up.
Power can be relinquished, dreams can fade into the background of the fight for survival and significance. Vision can become blurry in a world of competing priorities. Passions can flicker and burn out seeking to change society where power has been defined through the narrow telescope of material wealth.
Just like a tree can come back from a harsh winter to blossom in spring, we can tap into our breath and life and find ourselves again. With faith and love we can awaken the power to be who we are, who we are meant to be, who the world needs us to be; our true empowered selves.