What is it that keeps us from choosing not to obey those who wish to dominate and control us? What is it that has kept the citizens of Egypt in slavery to the whims of their rulers for the last 30 years? And, why have they chosen THIS time to say, “ENOUGH!”, and lay their heads under the tracks of military tanks sold to despots by American bosses – all seeking profit through the subjugation of others?
Fear keeps us under the control of others. Encouragement allows us to break free – just as the citizens of Tunisia encouraged the citizens of Egypt to have the courage to risk their lives for the sake of freedom. To en-courage is to put courage into someone. We can encourage one another by being an example and/or pointing to those who serve as examples, refusing to be ruled by others.
Recently I was offered a choice – obey or suffer the consequences. Here is what I wrote as an answer to the choice I was given:
Power as domination operates in hierarchical organizational structures. “Hierarchy” is an ancient Greek term which meant “sacred rule”. Today, it is generally defined in organizational theory as “any system in which distributions of power, privilege and authority are both systematic and unequal”. In this definition, power is taken to mean domination, and authority is the acceptance of domination as a legitimate arrangement. The legitimacy of this mode of power ultimately comes from a dogmatic understanding of reality – that an omnipotent (all-powerful) god rules over the universe. [http://neighborsgathering.net/2010/03/the-worship-of-power/] Logically, the ethical theory derived from this dogma is “might makes right”. This dogma is so much a part of our history and culture, that it has been accepted without question. It is, for the majority of our world’s population, THE paradigm of reality – in spite, I believe, of overwhelming evidence that it is irrational. I began questioning this dogma over 20 years ago and my questioning has led me to a place where I can no longer accept “power as domination” as a legitimate “authority”.
I would like to offer you a choice, just as you offered one to me: Partner with me to change the world, or continue without me in a system that, if not the root cause, at least contributes to the global crises. Walter Wink, in his book, The Powers That Be, labels this The Domination System. Letty M. Russell (one of the first women to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church) labels it as The Household of Caesar. Affirming that we cannot function without structures of authority, she makes it clear that we have a choice to “seek out those structures that contribute to communal well being and justice.” But we always have a choice. She writes, “…the way I or anyone else exercises authority and power determines whether it is authority as domination or as partnership.” It seems that you wish to deny the choice. I heard you tell me (I think it was your third statement), “That’s just the way the world is!” I heard you explain to me that the way you have chosen to relate to me is based on your role, your position in the hierarchy, implying that you have no choice.
It does not make sense to me, that in my calling and desire to co-create “Households of Freedom”, that I would choose to be in a position of slavery – held there by the fear of losing a monthly stipend. Slaves are offered a choice – submit to a domination system or suffer the consequences of refusal. I believe the term “slavery” can be substituted for any of the second terms in the language of our culture’s common dualisms relating to these kind of power relationships: Employer/Employee, Boss/Worker, Supervisor/Laborer and others. A slave exists where ever power is exercised over another. These power relationships produce fear, violence, poverty, lack of energy and motivation (“laziness”), guilt, shame, depression, sense of worthlessness, etc.. Slaves become free when they refuse to submit to the demonic “Powers That Be”. I take very seriously and literally the words found in Galatians 5:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (v.1)You, my brothers [and sisters] were called to be free…. (v.13)
I am and have been more than willing to contribute to your mission – because of the correlation with what I believe I am called to do. However, I will be my own master while serving, and contribute, if allowed, voluntarily, rather than work under a threat and constant criticism rather than encouragement. My motivation will come from a desire to serve for the sake of the common good rather than fear.
I wrote in the Intro page on my NG website:
It’s increasingly becoming clear that our social, economic, political and ecological systems are in trouble—civilization may be heading for a global collapse. Chaos theory tells us that when stable systems become unstable they can reach a tipping point where the complex factors which produced the instability overwhelm the systems, leading to either a breakdown of order or a breakthrough to a new and different kind of order.
I’m becoming increasingly convinced that we have reached that tipping point – perhaps we are past it – and all it requires is for us to open our eyes to see the overwhelming evidence that this is so. I wrote in my log this morning after my time of meditation, “If the world is to be healed, it will require creativity.” The present system, using power in the mode of domination and control, stifles creativity (instilling fatalism) while causing “laziness”. I think it would be a tragic loss for the world if we allow this system to destroy the potential of our continued relationship.