Do you know that word?
I hadn’t learned it until college:
Intro to International Relations.
(it was in the title of the introductory textbook)
I didn’t know the word, reached for a dictionary
and was shocked to read it meant “dominance.”
Why would we study dominance?
My innocent idealism believed we would study
how to make the world more whole…
not more controlled…
but, I come to recognize, we often truly believe that
domination is the path to the good.
I’d never used the word before that class,
but I’d grown up awash in the concept –
swimming in a sea of domination and submission –
power and control –
crime and punishment –
command and obedience.
It was this reality that taught me
beating the bully off of my brother was the answer.
I was the hero in this drama.
He, the bad guy.
My brother, the victim.
There was no other way but violence.
(I did not see another way
for I had not been taught another way.)
Dominate to rescue.
Send the bully home in tears.
And they all lived happily ever after…?
Isn’t this the domination myth?
The power-control binary was familiar
even if the vision of a world built on that basis
was not the world I longed for –
not the world I dreamed of –
not the way I heard from my Lord.
“The rulers of this world dominate,”
He tells us, but,
“This is not what you learn from Me.”
Not what we learn from You,
and yet, in Your name,
church leaders use guilt and shame to coerce the flock –
people used domination strategies to control their children –
force to EN-FORCE the rules
(to strengthen the control)…
And boys in my college classroom –
ambitious American boys in intro to international relations –
suggested violence to resolve persistent global challenges…
as if violence could beget peace…
(since, clearly pax romana worked out so well…)
But – maybe that’s all we really want.
Maybe we don’t really want wholeness.
Maybe we don’t really want each person
to have freedom
Maybe, we who are privileged to hold power
(at this moment of history)
just want our best life now –
our own pleasure at whatever cost.
Maybe we buy the lie that this kind of power
will carry us through indefinitely.
As if it’s sustainable.
As if it’s right.
Or, maybe we’ve really drunk the koolaid,
believing that domination is the only way to the good.
Put force behind the right ideology,
and watch it work…
but, does it work?
“Might makes right,” the world says.
“This is not what you learn from Me,” the Spirit whispers.
What if –
we actually heard the heart of the Jesus
who died at the hands of his enemies
giving his body as a willing ransom
rather than raise up warriors to defend his innocence
What if –
we actually followed the footsteps
of the humble, homeless, compelling healer
who never militarized his disciples
but transformed the wounds of their weapons
and rebuked those who live by the sword
What if –
we actually modeled our lives after the Man
whose words were provocative –
and tore the veil off of our veneers of righteousness
so we ALL saw our filthiness
And, what if –
in light of our filth
we then felt
and what if…
What if THAT knowing
and raised us out of domination cycles
transforming us –
like our Lord –
who lay down our lives
as servants of all?
I want that world.