Why People With Power Refuse to Share

Marcia Sirota
5 min readJul 26, 2023
person standing near the stairs
Photographer: Hunters Race | Source: Unsplash

It’s funny how some people who have lots and lots of power want more and more, and how some people who have a ton of privilege feel like they need a ton more.

Scarcity mindset

These two groups have something in common: a scarcity mindset. They’re driven by a profound sense of something lacking in their lives. They’re driven by the fear of not having “enough” even when they have so very much.

The problem with people who are dominated by this mentality is that the accumulation of more power or privilege cannot compensate for the emptiness they feel within.

They don’t realize that having “more” won’t fill them up. They don’t understand that what will actually satisfy is the experience of loving connection, not greed and the hoarding of power.

Abundance mindset

The opposite of the scarcity mindset is the abundance mindset. This is the notion that there is enough to go around if we all share. It suggests that the world has plenty enough resources if we stop hoarding and wasting so much of them.

People with the abundance mindset are happy to share what they have because they trust that they have enough. They are not afraid to lose their power or their privilege; in fact, they are happy for others to enjoy the same benefits.

People with a scarcity mindset compulsively pursue more power and more control, convinced that the problem is simply that they don’t have enough, and that once they get enough, they’ll be okay.

Many of these people will do everything they can to prevent others from having any power or privilege. This is done in the mistaken belief that sharing will somehow deprive them of what they can’t live without.

Lately, the people who are hoarding all the power and privilege are putting even more energy into attacking individuals and groups who have been asking for their fair share.

The power-hoarders are upping their game

The power hoarders are trying to deprive Black people of the right to vote by engaging in blatant gerrymandering. They are dragging out tired old falsehoods about the LGBTQ+ community. They are depriving women of their bodily autonomy. They are trying to keep immigrants and refugees out of their country. They are rewriting school books with shocking revisionist lies.

The ones holding onto power are so enraged and outraged (panicked, really) by the thought of having to share what they’re hoarding that they’re going to frightening lengths to have more power than they need and claw back what little power the disenfranchised groups might hold.

Nobody wins when people and institutions hoard all the power

Nobody wins in this scenario except a tiny minority of the population. And not even them, because they will never feel happy or at peace by pursuing this false goal.

Those of us — privileged white folks — who fear the “other” and who vote for white supremacist politicians are ignoring the lessons of history. With any proto-fascist government, the rights and freedoms of all the people become increasingly curtailed. Essentially, we are choosing to elect those who will eventually remove our power and privileges as well.

History shows us that the world veers to the right during challenging times. We feel a sense of fear and of lack and we incorrectly perceive the “other” as competitors for the things we need.

We look to authoritarian leaders to protect our power and privilege

Then we look to authoritarian leaders to “protect” us from those “others” who might steal the few crumbs of power and privilege we possess.

What we don’t see is that these leaders don’t care about our welfare. They aren’t going to help us hold on to what we have. They certainly aren’t going to help us to have more.

The truth is that these leaders only care about themselves. They are narcissists and sociopaths who are selling us seductive lies in order to gain more power and influence for themselves. Once they’re in, we’ll be as oppressed as the groups we were competing with.

Moving from a scarcity to abundance mindset

The answer is to move beyond the scarcity mentality and recognize that there’s enough out there for us all to share. We don’t have to give up our privilege; we just need to accord others the same rights and opportunities.

We need to see the truth about the authoritarian leaders who preach a message of white supremacy. They will not bring more prosperity to our nations. They will not bring more peace. Look at any dictatorship. The ordinary citizens lose far more than they could imagine. These types of regimes bring repression and violence, even to those who put them in power.

Information is power

When you’re afraid, inform yourself. Information is power. Information makes you less scared. Learn about history. Learn about authoritarianism. Learn about how sharing always works better than grabbing and hoarding power. In societies where people share the wealth, the power, and the privileges, there is more harmony, a better quality of life, and better mental and physical well-being for everyone.

We all need to recognize that the scarcity mindset never leads to anything good. It leads to fear, anger, envy, and aggression, while an attitude of abundance leads to sharing, caring, kindness, compassion, and altruism.

What kind of society do we really want to live in? I know what I want. And it’s not based in fear.


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Marcia Sirota

Writer, speaker, MD, and author of the Short & Sweet Guides to Life book series