Love Letters to Humans (no. 98) — on Destruction and Power

Our understanding & analyis of power informs our relational strategies everywhere—at home, in community, in our organizations, in our partnerships, parenting, and politics. When we disregard our own power, we destroy to get our needs met.

I do not oppose destruction. Actually, I love it. And it has its time and place. (That’s an exploration for another day.) What I question is the strategy of destruction as an opening move to meeting our needs in relationship.

When we don’t understand how much power we truly have—how resourceful we are, how creative, how connected to source and to each other, how much courage we have, how many possibilities exist in relating rather than destroying—it makes sense that every time we encounter a bridge that seems too high and frightening to cross, we would reach for a match instead of inching forward toward the dangerous unknown. We already know how to burn the bridges we haven’t yet learned to cross.

Destroying instead of relating in our most important relationships can sometimes look like: Snapping at someone for not being helpful instead of asking if they have capacity to support us in a moment of frustration • Accusing someone of intentional wrongdoing instead of asking what outcome they were hoping for • Limiting our own options (for work, play, worship, political action, romantic love, etc.) because we don’t want to associate with a person or group of people • Cutting off communication because we don’t want to hear someone else’s lived experience if it contradicts our assumptions about them • Shaming ourselves instead of allowing ourselves to feel what we feel and be where we are in an experience • Punishing someone else (or ourselves) for mistakes rather than encouraging growth and learning from them • Withdrawing from relationships to avoid the discomfort of tension or confrontation • Diminishing someone’s personhood when we disagree with them or disapprove of their choices

I hold this: relating is as powerful as destruction, and generally more effective for meeting our needs. And our relational fuckeries brilliantly show us where we have an opportunity to develop greater skill and capacity for showing up to tension, discomfort, and conflict with power that supports the wholeness of each of us and all of us. I want this for us.