Perceiving yourself as powerless can be dangerous for others as well as yourself.
If you’ve always thought of yourself as small, it’s frighteningly easy to believe “it’s okay if I insult someone, they won’t take it seriously if it’s just coming from me” or “it doesn’t matter if I punch someone, my fists are so tiny and weak.”
When Spiderman says that “with great power comes great responsibility”, you should always recall the implicit corollary (exposed in Kick-Ass): “with no power comes no responsibility.” Powerlessness becomes an excuse – an escape from freedom. That’s why ideological critique is essential.
See also “people who want you to obey them but don’t want to think of themselves as the kind of people who have power”… so they twist the situation until doing anything other than what they want you to is somehow oppressive.
So the question becomes, which approach do you take to solve this (both in encouraging others, and keeping yourself level):
- Get people to have a more realistic, multiple-perspective appreciation of “power” and how even when you feel powerless, you might have a lot of power, and you need to be careful with it.
- Even when you are powerless, you still have responsibility and you should be careful and truthful with your decisions.