What I Learned: When People in Power Abuse Their Authority

I was scrolling through twitter looking at #WalterScott. Out of the millions of tweets I saw, one resonated with me. I don’t have an image of the tweet, just the words they said. 

  “How do I explain to my nephew that the same people who are here to protect you maybe the ones to actually kill you. #WalterScott”  

 If that doesn’t make you think, I don’t think you have a brain to use.

I want to tell you a quick story about myself before I get to my response. 

 Between the ages of 11 and 12, I remember it being such a difficult time for me, from 9/11, to a big move (RI to TN), my father suffering from heart issues, other family matters, and then the start of my (still) ongoing struggle with depression, I was having a hard time.  I wasn’t violent or nasty. I was just sad, alone, and confused. There were those in authority that acted deceitful in response to my mental health.

I can’t talk about too many of the specifics just yet; it is still difficult to even mention this much. It had become known to all in my class that I was suffering from depression, and some events and words of mine were highly exaggerated. 

Word got back to some influential and wealthy parents. A Principal and their assistant, possibly concerned with losing money, decided that I was to be the sacrifice that must be made. The situation was constructed where I was made to look like the bad guy and I was basically blackmailed to leave (unbeknownst to the classmates. I had found out from a friend who was in that class that they were never told that I was forced to leave. They thought it’d been my choice). Even though I went to see a therapist like they’d requested of me, I was still rejected and they saw me as a problem. Either I leave or they would make me look mentally unstable/violent and to be watched at all times. 

I felt betrayed and confused. How can someone who espoused Christian views, have treated me in this way?  I wasn’t a danger to anyone (my therapist told them that herself). The reason, my disillusioned self would soon learn, was because there was (and still is) a stigma around mental health, and the fact that there were generous benefactors for the school who didn’t like my presence. It didn’t help either that I wasn’t the best student at the time and my grades were suffering as a result of my depression, so it was no loss for them to get rid of me. It was more trouble to keep me there. My parents, wanting to spare me of the whole thing (the emotional impact had already been great) and not being able to afford a lawyer, couldn’t and didn’t fight to disprove the allegation.

I couldn’t understand it for the longest time. 

Over time I began to not trust all those in authority; to be honest I still don’t. I hear stories of ministers and priests abusing children, politicians being bribed, teachers raping students, and now more and more we hear of people being killed by cops and God only knows how many were actually telling the truth. So many abuses of the authority and power given. Why? I constantly asked myself. Why?

I, at the age of 12 learned this hard lesson and this is what I would say to my child if I had one.


So what do you tell your child? 

Authority and power dont automatically make you a good person. On the contrary, those who are not of good character tend to have those bad qualities exacerbated as a result of the authority and power that is given to them. The sad truth is, there are many people of poor/bad character out there, many who are in positions of power and authority.

There are those in authority and power who are racists. There are those in authority and power who are sexists. There are those in authority and power who are bigoted. They have poor character and the power and authority they have only make things worse. Sadly, you will hear more about these people than you ever will of those who do the right thing. 

Why were they given power and authority?

The reason they were given power and authority is because a majority of people today value what someone can do for them over the actual character of the individual. They don’t care if a person is sexist or racist, just can they get the job done. As long as it doesn’t affect their work, they don’t care. 

But it does affect their work. It can somewhere along the line. 

Well that’s the thing about it; many people don’t think that far ahead. Most don’t believe that good character and good work ethic are valuable. They only see good character as a bonus, or they automatically assume that because you have good work ethic, you have good character. Or it could be they are sociable and make people feel so good about themselves that their bad character is either hidden by that, or the people that meet them overlook their bad character, excusing it.

Many times, people of bad character can also be very sociable and relatable.

How can one survive all this? Will I be safe?

You live day by day. You can only do so much to protect yourself from the dangers of the world. At the end of the day though no matter what happens to you, don’t give up hope. Fight. Fight for what is right and what you believe in. Fight with your every breath. Being safe is not nearly as important as being free and treated with respect. To be treated as someone with rights. I can’t promise you won’t get hurt, frankly I would be lying to you if I said you are safe from all harm.

What I can promise you is this, I will fight for you. You must fight for you, and you must inspire others to fight for each other. Call out those that abuse their authority and power. Call out those of poor character. Show and tell others that character matters far more than good work ethic or being pleasant. No matter who it is, no matter what side they are on. Right is right and wrong is wrong. 

Will I die?

We all die someday, the thing is though, we never know when. Do not let yourself become so scared of death it paralyzes you from living, for it will happen one way or another. The question is what are you going to do in the meantime? Will you live in fear of those in authority? Will you fear those who abuse their power?  Will you stand by as this continues? Or will you fight for those who are victims of the abuser?  Will you let the fear paralyze you? Or will you stand up for what is right?

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