Power With, Not Power Over

BY ANNA ROBERTSON | October 5, 2020
Sunday’s Readings

“Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 117).

The tenants of today’s Gospel have declared independence from reality: they have mistaken their call to cooperative stewardship (power with) as a right to acquisitive dominion (power over). Those who would enter into their midst to return things to right relationship—in this case, the landowner’s servants and later his son—are rejected. Alienated as they have become from their true nature, the tenants see the landowner’s emissaries as threats to their comfortable way of life, and so they respond by enacting violence on the bodies of the very people who would guide them back to their true identities as temporary stewards on borrowed land.

power with, not power over

The year 2020 has brought immense fear and contraction into the hearts of many. We—and by “we” I am referring to those who, like me, have largely benefitted from the historical project of whiteness—have built a society on stolen labor, stolen land, and stolen time and called it our own. From the fires in the western United States to the festering wound of racism, the amplification of existing inequities by a global pandemic to the frightening polarization of public life, the fruits of our protracted courtship with unreality are many and fearful.

It is tempting during times of fear to tighten the radius of our circle of care, to barricade its borders with power and resources, and to comfort ourselves inside of our echo chambers with stories of our moral superiority. Through the prophetic cries of the poor and vulnerable, all too often left on the margins of our circles, God invites us to remember our vocation as human beings is not one of dominion over competitors, but of stewardship among friends.

Today, we pray for eyes to see and ears to hear so that the cries of the prophets among us might instead soften our hearts, fortify our spirits, and remind us of our true nature as co-creators of God’s kingdom on earth.

4 replies
  1. Diana Kregiel
    Diana Kregiel says:

    How do we love our neighbor in a pandemic? How do we reach out to others while protecting ourselves from infection?

    ANN WERNER says:

    I know my dominance disorder.
    When I least expect, it rears its ugly head.
    Most days I am reflective, responsive in my dealings of everyday life.
    Yes, I still have ample opportunity to catch myself acting from my shadow. This makes me so grateful for the humbling power of forgiveness.

  3. RJ Andes
    RJ Andes says:

    Interesting read but again we’re treading on to that path again on land and the theory that ties racism alongside it and combining them together without any proof and just a opinionated narrative of a ideology created by white people mainly liberels to maintain a hold of importance among society in general and acting like saviors.

    Land grabbing/stealing is a foe to almost every country known to man, past empires, warlords, kings and many nations have taken territories via war and conquest it is well documented. Look at any old maps in general and compare to today there are borders still in dispute today this problem will never go away.

    Let me give you a free history lesson with 100% facts and without a agenda or guilt, Muslims were stealing lands from black people in Africa before the white man came and were the last to abolish slavery way after the white man stopped. Also Muslims in Sudan and Mali were rounding there own people up to sell because of the riches it bought after slavery was abolished and it is still a problem in certain African countries today.

    Today we need to respect each other and move forward and stop looking back, if we can’t put aside issues that have been over exaggerated by those that seek to profit from my community…how can we live side by side during a pandemic when people are dividing and acting selfishly thinking there making a change or making it worse for everybody in our country.

    Has a Black man I was taught has a child that UK and US were the worse but it’s amazing what you find and explore when you seek the truth and realize this is not a race problem but instead a historical problem or todays standards a individual problem.

    I would love to know your opinion of us black people removing or replacing white culture in everyday aspects of life ? Ranging from movies,comics,T.V,school places,jobs,sports,politics,gaming,brands and even removing white history while we celebrate just the good of Black history for a month and not the bad.

    If anything me has a Black man should be apologizing for the double standards by my culture, in my eyes we were already equal way before all the protests and pandemic. Innocent lives of ALL races are been lost and how many more before it’s too late.

  4. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Nice reflection Anna Robertson. Thanks. At India’s Anandwan or the Forest of Bliss, leprosy warriors, specially abled commandos, and able-bodied fellow mortals work together, and generate power that goes a long way in greening their surroundings, serving the freedom loving animal and migratory bird species, cultivating grain, fruit, vegetable, and celebrating the gift of life with song and dance. They have been doing that day after day for the last seven decades and more.


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