“Of all the manifestations of power, restraint in the use of that power impresses people most.”

Explain what you think this quotation means and discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with it. Develop your position with reasons and/or specific examples drawn from history, current events, or your own experience, observations, or reading.

This quote means essentially that people admire powerful individuals who do not use their power to the utmost to achieve their goals but rather use only the minimum amount required to attain them. While this view is admirable in the abstract, the statement is inaccurate in that it fails to reflect how people actually behave.

The popularity of “revenge” movies aptly illustrates that many people are not impressed with individuals who use restraint when exercising their power. In these movies the protagonist is typically portrayed as having certain physical abilities that would enable him to easily defeat the various adversaries he encounters. In the initial confrontations with these individuals he typically refrains from using his abilities to defeat them. The audience, however, soon grows tired of this, and when the hero finally loses control and completely demolishes his opponent, they burst into applause. This homey example strongly suggests that many people are more impressed with the use of power than with the restraint of its use.

The Gulf War provides another example of a situation where restraint in the use of power was not widely acclaimed. When the allied forces under the command of General Schwartzkoff showed restraint by not annihilating the retreating Iraqi army, the general was widely criticized by the public for not using the force available to him to eliminate this potential enemy once and for all. This example shows once again that often people are not impressed by individuals who exhibit restraint in using their power.

In conclusion, the examples cited above clearly indicate that, contrary to the view expressed in the quote, many—if not most—people are more impressed with individuals who utilize their power to the utmost than with those who exercise restraint in the use of their power.

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