Ideals of social justice can seldom be fully achieved without the exercise of political power. Hence the pursuit of freedom involves a struggle for power which sacrifices the principle of love. (Mennonite Quarterly Review, 1936)This actually poses a problem for my own ideals regarding social justice, which I think is worth fighting for. But here's my conviction: the only thing Christians can do with power is give it away. That doesn't mean some of us are necessarily ever entirely powerless. There's power I have inherent to my identity in this society. So that means my responsibility is to constantly share and extend my power to others - pour it out, as in kenosis (which I discussed a bit last week) and take up love. That's my workaround.
The problem the Quakers ran into, as the Christian Church on the whole did in the first millennium (and then more so in the second millennium), is that once they had attained power, they held onto it. This is hard not to do. Especially when the fresh memories of oppression and marginalization are forefront in our minds. Constantinian Christians: we can decry them for being co-opted by the Roman Empire all we want, but they had seen generations of their family, friends and faith communities abused and slaughtered. Suddenly they were given safety. Hard to ask anyone to do differently, but it does have consequences over the long term.
So for myself, already holding power, I pray I learn how to share it - claiming love for my own modus operandi, and passing the power (as we "pass the peace," perhaps?) praying the Holy Spirit leads that "passing" onward and downward, that we my all lay down power and take up love.