One of the blessings of having my life wrecked like a ship in a storm when I should have died in a hiking accident 12 years ago, lost my job as an officer in the air force as a result, and when I went through two divorces, is it helps me see things from a variety of perspectives. In reflecting on the tensions and divides that threaten to tear us apart, the following notion occurred to me: I think a major reason why Trump got elected is also the same reason why many don’t like him, as well as the motive that drove some to kill Jesus; namely, power and its minions. While people voted for Trump because they saw him as “outside” of our power structures and all its baggage, others were “frustrated” by him for seeming to embody the very coercive systems of power, violence, greed, and division he said he was apart from. Power is a beast that woos and seeks to corrupt those who hold it, so when Jesus came to shine a light on the ways it and its minions poison and harm us, it pushed people to crucify him.
I share this because with the political, racial, and all manner of other divides ripping us apart, I firmly believe people are NOT the problem, it’s deeper and bigger than that. Have you heard of “power over” vs. “power under” (also called “power to”)? While the former entices those with power to cling to it by keeping it away from others by any means necessary, I trust following Jesus down the path of power under with our actions, mentalities, and votes will bring more of the healing, unity, and peace we long for!
The Author and Creator of this all, in the Jewish and Christian understanding, seems to have been all about giving power away for the benefit of others since the beginning. Right away in Genesis’ creation stories, for instance, we see the Divine entrusting the care and cultivation of the earth to humanity. You can even read the story of eating the forbidden fruit as a tale of falling from a place trusting and sharing power (not eating the fruit), into a space of desiring, clinging to, and wanting more power (eating the fruit).
Fast forward a bit to Father Abraham of “many sons” fame (I couldn’t resist :), who we see Spirit blessed for the expressed purpose of blessing ALL people on earth. One could say power isn’t meant to be held, desired, or cherished, as then it corrupts, but is designed to let flow as an enlivening force that perpetually moves and blesses ever greater circles of people! This story line continues throughout Judaism and Christianity’s sacred texts, and is epitomized by Jesus.
During the 3 years of his life we know a decent amount about, the Christ went around sharing and spreading his power as a servant to others in the form of healing, wellness, freedom, and unity. While Jesus freely used his influence and abilities to benefit others (power under/to), he simultaneously warned the authority figures stuck in power over’s seductive web to resist the urge to cling to and keep their positions and privileges via violence, exclusion, manipulation, shaming, division, and putting up all manner of legal and religious obstacles to trip people on the path to greater health and wellness (power over). The last bit makes me think of some of our society’s overly convoluted systems, how about you?
As I read the sacred story, Jesus didn’t oppose or condemn people, but mentalities, systems, ways of being, and power structures that promoted the same types of tensions, divides, and gaps between classes, races, political parties, etc. we see today. To circle back to my statement above that people are NOT the real problem, I say that because even while he was being wrongly executed in one of the most inhumane ways known to humanity, Jesus prayed for God to forgive his killers, accusers, deserters, and so on because “they do not know what they’re doing.” I believe this tidbit is crucial, because it turns our attention to the truth that quite often when people do wrong, evil, mean, or harmful things, they believe they’re doing good because they’ve been caught up in the lies of the power over mentality that pervades our society. They literally don’t know any better!
I read a blog this morning referencing the Lord of the Rings. Haldir, an elf, is the character who says the quote from Tolkien in a picture above. I think it sums up why I wrote this and what I hope and pray for us all. The more we fight, divide, blame, point fingers, shame, and exclude, the worse or world will become. YET, the more we remember we are one human family, the better we care for one another, the more we understand the stories and histories of those unlike us, and the better we use power, privilege, and position to continuously benefit and bless others, the more amazing things will get. At least that’s my take on things, what do you think?
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