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  • Jane McKinney

Power is not knowledge

Most everyone has heard the phrase “knowledge is power.” In his eulogy for John Lewis on July 30, 2020, President Obama referenced this when he said, “His mother, Willie Mae Lewis, nurtured that curiosity in this shy, serious child. ‘Once you learn something,’ she told her son, ‘once you get something inside your head, no one can take it away from you.’” Indeed, knowledge is power. John Lewis and President Obama have accomplished great things for our country through the application of knowledge and understanding.

However, the opposite phrase—power is knowledge—is not true. While power is the ability to influence action, it is not necessarily derived from fact, the underpinning of knowledge. There are powerful figures in history who have enacted horrific crimes against humanity under this assumption, and it is our responsibility as informed citizens to do the research for ourselves even if it makes us uncomfortable.

Our emotions influence our behavior. If we feel discomfort, we are more susceptible to influences that encourage displaced actions. As a defense mechanism, a person is likely to act out (usually in a destructive manner) in order to avoid painful emotions such as humiliation, self-doubt, demoralizing distress, and self-hatred.

When I was in graduate school in the 1980s, I came across a researcher by the name of June Price Tangney, who clarified for me the difference between shame—an excruciatingly painful and debilitating emotion—and guilt. I learned that guilt is the recognition that one has made a mistake and spurs one to do what they can to make amends and resolve the problem, thereby preserving the relationship. Shame, on the other hand, lives on a continuum that could lead one to either implode (commit suicide) or explode (commit homicide), depending on the level of intense despair and isolation one experiences. Destructive actions destroy lives and relationships. Destructive actions weaken society. Knowledge is a collection of facts that are supported by observable proof—and it is free to the public. It is not a secret well only available to those with power; it is not based on personal biases or opinion and often requires reassessing what we think we know. And it is what one does with their knowledge that distinguishes between a moral and just society and one that imbues evil. Herein lies the importance of John Lewis’ mother’s words. As we become conscious of our painful thoughts, feelings, and experiences, we have an opportunity to heal. Knowledge becomes power. Black Lives Matter is a movement asking for restoration of full consciousness, full knowledge, and full health of society. We now have an obligation from our own positions of power to become knowledgable, and to use knowledge to make the world a better place.

Be well, Jane



A Balanced Life LLC continues to offer Behavioral Telehealth services. It is important for you to contact your insurance company to request ongoing telehealth services to prevent potential exposure to the coronavirus during this pandemic. A Balanced Life LLC asks each client to review and sign the Informed Consent for Telehealth During the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic so that you are making an informed decision with regard to your behavioral health.

Insurance information

Some providers at A Balanced Life LLC accept the following insurance plans:


Blue Cross Blue Shield/ New Directions

Blue Care

Preferred Care

Preferred Care Blue

Blue Select

Blue Select Plus


Freedom Select


Home State Health (Am Better) - MO



KANSAS: KanCare Sunflower Health Plan

Aetna Better Health

UHC community plan


MO Health Net

MO WellCare

Medicare (KS and MO)

United Health Care



Marquita Leverette, LCSW

Through work with adults struggling with serious and chronic health conditions, I have come to understand the impact of unresolved trauma on not only individual health outcomes, but on overall quality of life. I am dedicated to working with individuals who have experienced trauma, and believe in addressing traumatic events to elevate and heighten personal well-being.

Licensed in the state of Missouri as a clinical social worker (LCSW), my experience includes assisting adults resolve inter- and intra-personal challenges, including anxiety; depression; transphobia and homophobia; sudden life changes, such as loss of employment or a loved one; and the effects of trauma from intimate partner violence, interpersonal violence, incarceration, and other big life events. My clinical work with LGBTQ people remains a priority, and I welcome individuals and couples who want to strengthen their relationship with self and others.

In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, caring for my house plants, flower gardening, and reading.

Marquita accepts the following insurances: Aetna and Cigna, as well as self-pay clients.

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