You can stand tall without standing on someone. You can be a victor without having victims. – Harriet Woods
Reading the book “Eating in the Light of the Moon” by Anita Johnston, PhD, I kept going back to a particular story that highlighted the difference between power through “domination” and power through “dominion”. For those who might be interested, it’s available for purchase through amazon, or audiobook download on Audible.com. In the book, Chapter 9, page 66 is where this chapter begins.
In my experience, the word “power” is frequently given a negative connotation, but I can see how it would be, if our idea of it comes from a view of domination. It’s also interesting to me that the word “dominion” is very much relegated to the realm of religion and theology, in most popular use. However, Ms. Johnston’s take on the differences between the words gives me a new interpretation to consider.
“…most of us are familiar is the power of domination, or power-over-others…this power is based on hierarchy…Underlying the power of domination is belief in the concept of limitation, or what I call “the pie”. Imagine that you and I are sharing a pie. If my piece gets bigger, then yours gets smaller…This belief creates an atmosphere of competition and suspicion. I have to keep an eye on you to make sure you don’t get more and you have to watch me carefully so that I don’t get the upper hand. ”
“Unlike the power of domination, the power of dominion has no hierarchical structure. It is based on equality. Rather than being based on a belief in scarcity or limitation, its based on a belief in abundance, the assumption that there is enough to go around. This results in cooperation rather than competition. No one has to win and no one has to lose. That way, if I have something you want, all you have to do is let me know, and I can tell you how to get some for yourself.”
Further, it explains how domination might employ tactics of deception, intimidation, bribery or cruelty. On the other side, dominion would operate out of understanding their own power from within, belief in oneself and the ability to exercise power without adversely impacting the other party.
What do you think? Do you believe that power is something that can be sought, or learned, in ways that are either harmful or helpful? Is it so easy to delineate or is there more of a grey area? While dominion (as described above) seems more gentle in nature, the “technical” definition of the word still hearkens to themes of domination or control.