Guest editorial…Abuse of power rears its ugly head in many ways

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by Shannon Williams

When someone is given a position of power or authority, it is his personal, professional and moral responsibility not to abuse that power. Sadly, however, abuse of power is something that often happens. The abuse transcends a particular demographic or profession and is all-inclusive.

Allegations of sexual misconduct against young men have recently been made against Bishop Eddie Long, pastor of New Birth Ministries in Lithonia, Ga., an Atlanta suburb. While it’s certainly too early to determine the validity of these allegations and any suspect (including Long) is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the topic does bring one to wonder, “What if it is true?”

I’ve had countless conversations with people since the controversy broke two weeks ago, and aside from being a truly disturbed individual, the primary consensus that everyone attributed the ability to commit such acts was an abuse of power.

Regardless of how people may try to justify any sort of misconduct, abuse of power is never a good thing. However, I do understand how some people can become abusers of power. Think about it. If an individual is the “leader” of something, that person generally doesn’t have many people to answer to, so in essence, he becomes the end all, be all, in most instances. The buck stops with him so it becomes difficult for someone with less authority to overrule or oppose anything.

Another example is someone with a lot of wealth. As we all know, with money comes power and for some, that power means never being told no or denied anything. We see it all with celebrities. They’re obviously underage, but because they have money and fame, they enter bars and drink alcohol with no regard to the rules.

The same can be said about presidents of companies, pastors in the pulpit, politicians, etc. The list could go on and on.

This allegation regarding Long triggered something within the Indianapolis Recorder staff and instituted a lot of dialogue. The end result was the inception of a series of articles that looked at the abuse of power from four perspectives: religion, business, education and politics. While this series was developed to educate readers about different instances of abuse of power, we also want it to be an empowerment tool; a call to action of sorts.

We want to empower you to stand up for what is right and expose the wrong. This four-part series is a way for us to get away from being victims, thus becoming victorious.

There are things that many of you reading this editorial know are wrong and hurt others, yet you remain silent. Silence can be the difference between life and death. We have to be engaged. If the allegations against Long prove false, then that would be a wonderful thing because no one deserves to be defamed or extorted—regardless of the reasons or motives. However, if the allegations prove to be true, then I commend the young men for coming forward and exposing the wrong deeds of a person who took advantage of his position and authority.

Sometimes exposing ourselves, as difficult as it may be, is what protects others from experiencing the same maltreatment that we have endured. That’s where you come in. If there is something that you have experienced that is unlawful, immoral and unjust, let us know. The only way to stop people from abusing their power is by taking the power away.

(You can e-mail comments to Shannon Williams at ShannonW@indyrecorder.com. Reprinted from the Indianapolis Recorder)

(EDITORS NOTE: The complete four-part series will appear in the Courier.)

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