Today is the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa Black Wall Street massacre, and the first anniversary that I've been aware of it. Read through this, and/or watch the short video:
I see the act of dominance, the violence of "authority challenged" in the story of this massacre... and I see the the same thing in the police violence across the nation in the past week. I've seen it in the religious abuse bred by authoritarian fundamentalist religion. And I see the same feeling inside myself, in my worst moments with my own kids - wanting to make them regret daring to defy my own presumed authority as their father.
Authority is a word that hides other words: It really means "power", and it means "force" of some kind. But authority does not actually justify its own self-perpetuation. Authority does NOT justify its own self-perpetuation. A socially agreed right may auth-orize some uses of force, but using the "might makes right" of dominance reverts to a blood-red morality of thousands of years ago. We recognize that oppression and violence forfeits all moral authority in today's humanity.
I see it in the faces and movements of cops charging into protesters, swinging truncheons, throwing punches at the prostrate, shooting at camera crews: asserting their dominance to take whatever space they claim and punish any offense they feel, furious at anyone who would challenge their claim. I can feel it in my own heart when I mistakenly let myself think that my child is taking something *from* me when they say "no" to me. Questioning that anger is when I realize that "authority" is serving as a mirage cloaking the desire to dominate.
social justice demands you stop dominating others
that doesn't mean you have to become submissive
We want the violence of dominance to stop. To STOP, not to just change hands. We agree, we know, that it is abuse of power. And when we say "When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression" I think what we're seeing is fear - the fear that they will be dominated in the same way that they themselves have done to others.
For the people to whom violence is being done in the name of authority, de-escalation is hard because it involves walking a fine or sometimes non-existent line of managing the threatened emotional state of someone who views themselves as in control over you. And for the authoritarian oppressors, it is hard because it requires giving up an entire worldview of violence in which you would be destroyed by "justice" for your sins.
This seems to me to be what is meant by "reconciliation" work. I invite myself, and all of you, into that work in our own hearts and actions. I don't intend to sideline "justice" with that, nor to stop the less-powerful from seeking and realizing more power in order to defend themselves. There's a "both and" here of both "dismantling the master's house with his own tools" and of pulling ourselves up out of that worldview of dominance into a society of equality.