I have so far focused on discussing the individual in contemporary society, and perhaps this has falsely implied that you and I are the only ones to blame for the fact that things are not as good as they could be. It is far too simple to point out systemic factors which attack our autonomy and moral agency and then conclude that we are to blame for everything. If we were, then individual transformation would be the remedy to every social problem.
But a peaceful heart won’t stop police brutality. Exercising moderation won’t curtail corporate greed. Generosity won’t end starvation. This is not to dissuade you from focusing on the individual cultivation of virtue, for this is essential to improving our communities; however, our individual intentions are only as potent as the means we possess for actualizing them.
In other words, power magnifies intent. It’s not just us causing social malaise. Beyond your infirmities, my vices, and our general apathy, powerful forces are working to maintain the status quo. While we are culprits insofar as we inadvertently sustain these forces through acts of selfishness and ignorance, we did not create nor do we steer these forces. If we ever want our vision for a better society to become reality, we need to overpower them.
So while I have been focusing on ways to restore moral agency, that alone is not enough. We need to restore our collective efficacy. To begin this journey, we will next examine the nature of power.