Nowadays it doesn’t come as a surprise that those with power end up abusing it to harm those which are on a worse capability to defend themselves. This is something that happens at all levels of society and it just requires something that makes you different from those with power to be triggered.
This seems to have been a social mechanism that has existed in humans for a long time, by creating an us and a them it’s possible to keep cohesion on the social structures by focusing energies on protecting from the other (usually smaller) group.
That said, it should be taken into account that usually such actions are initiated by particular individuals who, hide into and feel backed by their group. Such individuals may resource to tools like rumours or fear in order to get their group to back them as a way of self preservation of said group.
Nowadays, though, things are slowly changing and many minorities have managed to organize themselves and fight for their rights showing the abusing groups that they don’t represent a threat and shouldn’t be misstreated or how wrong the acts made against them were, and the society has responded by trying to protect those minorities from the harming elements in the society. Sadly, the way in which such protection is provided is by giving the other group power over the abusing one and trusting them to use such power only to protect themselves.
And that’s when the scales change, and individuals in the other group abuse their power on to other groups. I’m not going to enumerate particular cases of such situations, but an overlook to how such empowerments have led to power abuses in the recent past and present is enough to prove such situation.
In this case, as it happened before, the abuses are usually exerted by individuals who hide into their groups and who resource to similar tools in order to get backed, for example the fear of ending up in the same situation as they were initially if they lose their acquired power.It’s not hard to find similarities between the individuals on one group and the other though, whilst the individuals of the first group try to avoid any relationship with the attacked group, the individuals of the second group try to be clear members of it; both kinds of individuals instigate fear of their groups being destroyed by the other group as a way to gather support; both individuals usually have a reason for their actions, be it personal gain, hate, fear or conflicts between ideas and both individuals wouldn’t do such actions if they didn’t feel backed by their group.Even more detailed analysis, may reveal how groups which are attacked by more powerful groups may attack at the same time to less powerful groups, which may even share some of their characteristics with them.So as it is becoming more and more obvious that the existence of such individuals is inherent to humanity itself and that they can only thrive because of power imbalances which they can abuse, it’s becoming apparent that giving power to the attacked groups to defend themselves isn’t going to solve the problem but reverse it. But of course if such power isn’t given to them they would have no way to defend themselves, will they?The truth though is that you can’t fix an imbalance by causing another imbalance and expect things to just stay balanced, a better objective would be instead to try removing the first imbalance to start with.So, what I’m trying to convey here is that we should aim to remove the power instead of creating new ones as a way to avoid such imbalances from happening. Doing so is, though, not always possible. There are quite a few reasons for it, on one side larger societies need some power structures as a way to protect and preserve themselves, on other such power is inherent to the individuals (for example, being stronger o smarter) or groups (for example being bigger) and are impossible to remove. In such cases the only option to go is deterrence.And, again, deterrence is something we are doing quite wrong. There is no way in which you can prevent an irrational human from abusing their power as such person is by definition, not evaluating the consequences of their acts, those acts though tend to be more focused and less common. You can prevent a rational human, though, from abusing their power by making sure the return of investment is negative, that is that the damage times the probability of being caught is bigger than the win they can make.But for this to work many things have to be in place, first actions should only be taken against such people after they have committed the abuse and not before to ensure there is causality effect. Expressing the idea of committing such abuse for example shouldn’t be punished as otherwise the society will not be able to prevent such abuses before they happen because people will be afraid of the consequences of speaking of their actions in case they can be considered an abuse.In a similar way, a neutral party has to evaluate the alleged abuse, it is important for such party to be neutral to ensure the cleanness of the process. Such party should give equal weight to both sides of the conflict and contrast any allegations made by a single side with the other as a way to prevent power imbalances from arising.And finally trust on such neutral parties and their decisions have to be in place in both groups as otherwise one of the sides is bound to consider the final decision to be another imbalance of power.Personally there is a lot to think in there and I suspect most of these proposals are almost impossible to attain. On the meanwhile one could think that the best solution would be to expose those member of groups which are abusing their power to ensure they don’t feel backed but the truth is that there is such level of imbalances that doing so may end up with the society considering it’s you who is abusing his power by doing so. Whether such an action is correct or not should be for your ethics to evaluate as it is this same ethics which make (for most people) power abuses and unacceptable thing.