What Will You Do?
This week, Rev. Joanne completes her six-part series based on the book The Twelve Freedoms1 by Unity minister Phillip Pierson. Discussing what Pierson calls the “Energizing Dyad” of Zeal & Dominion (Power), we learn that Zeal is the impulse to move forward, and Dominion is that which gives authority to all areas of our life.
One of the things that make spiritual tools so effective is that they can be applied to all aspects of our lives. A Truth Principle is only “true” if it can be applied everywhere. And like other types of tools, they can be used to build or to destroy.
It would have been easy and safe for Rev. Joanne to speak to the powers of Zeal & Dominion only in the general case, allowing each of us to apply what we learn to our own unique situation. But the widespread civil unrest happening in many places around the country provided her the opportunity to choose to address the main thing, if not the only thing, most of us are thinking about every day. Kudos to her for stepping into the ring.
When many people hear the word “power,” it is often taken to mean the ability to obtain what one wants or needs, perhaps at the expense of others. Blatant greed, prestige only for its own sake, and the brute force to obtain them are certainly the exercising of power, but are all too common examples of the misapplication of our innate power of Dominion.
A positive and productive use of our power of Dominion is to recognize that we have the ability to control our actions and reactions to what is happening around us, and when coupled with the power of Will, we can decide to “change our mind” from a place of fear to a place of love.
One of the first things all newborns experience in their early development is distinguishing a sense of self – that is, differentiating their very being from their physical environment. Where does the outside world end, and I begin. In a very real sense, this is the first step in establishing our ego. Within discussions of personal improvement and spiritual growth the term “ego” is more often than not looked upon as something that is to be transcended, or at the very least avoided. In the sense that ego represents selfishness, conceit, and personal aggrandizement, that is sage advice. But ego also means a healthy sense of self-worth and self-respect. Without having this aspect of our ego activated, we are impaired in being able to have a positive effect on our own lives and on the world around us.
Human evolution has provided us with the wonderful capacity for emotions. Renowned psychologist and specialist in the study of human emotions, Robert Plutchik described eight categories of human emotions – fear, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, surprise, trust and anticipation.2 These emotions can be experienced singly or simultaneously in any combination and to a wide variety of degrees. They help us not only to successfully and safely navigate the world around us, but to enjoy it as well!
Our power of Zeal can be fueled by our intellect or by our emotions. Neither of these is always bad or always good. When we allow our intellect too much sway, we risk reducing everything to either/or choices with less room for nuances that may provide a better solution. If we allow our emotions too much influence, we may ignore information that allows for more careful consideration in favor of what satisfies our immediate need for gratification. Balance between the two is key. The Greeks knew that. That is why they included both Apollo, the God of truth and philosophy, and Dionysus, the God of revelry and emotion among their highest pantheon.
In the broadest sense, Ego contains within it the sense of intellect and emotion. Rev. Joanne explains that when we take Ego applied in its positive sense of self-worth and self-respect, and combine it with Love, the result is the the constructive Energizing Dyad of Zeal/Power.
One of the fundamental ideas in Unity is that of personal responsibility. Unity does not teach the concept of original sin. Its Second Principle is “I am naturally good, because God's Divinity is in me as it is in everyone.” If we hold these two things to be true, it does not allow for the idea for individuals being held responsible for “the sins of their fathers.”
What the world witnessed in Minneapolis on May 25th in the taking of a life by a police officer was an appalling act that has been universally condemned. The person and/or persons responsible should be held to account. It is tragic and reprehensible. But the actions of one person do not indict an entire group of people. And the actions of a large group of people in the past, even our direct ancestors, does not automatically mean that every person in that group, however it is defined, is collectively guilty now and forever.
We do, however, have a collective responsibility as a society to work for justice where it is missing and to help everyone to become the best possible person they can be by providing the help, support, encouragement and incentives for doing so.
Rev. Joanne reminds us of the classic Unity idea made popular by Eric Butterworth, “In order to set things right, we must first see them right.” When we are feeling aggrieved and in the throes of an emotional response to an injustice, it can be extremely difficult to “see things right.” She explains that we cannot see things from a place of Love if we are staying in our head, staying in a place of fear, anger, hurt, victimhood, and blame.
When Butterworth is telling us to “see things right” he means that we must have a vision of how things could be, coming from a place of Love. Seeing things right also means that actions have consequences. When a person in a position of authority abuses their power (power is the negative ego-based sense) they should be held responsible. And when we cross the line of expressing understandable anger by constructive means into the destruction of property of innocent people, that is not only unhelpful, but ultimately self-defeating and we should be held responsible for crossing that line too.
These are indeed strange times. In some ways very complex, and in other ways fairly straightforward. Unity teaches that each of us has the ability to transform ourselves and in the process have a positive effect on the world. The Twelve Freedoms are one set of tools we have available to do that. Whether we know it or not, whether we want it to be true or not, each of us is on our own personal lifelong quest for meaning and happiness. In 2020 the entire planet is dealing with the Covid-19 situation, and in the USA, we now have the added challenge of civil unrest. We can all wish that none of this had occurred and that it would all just go away. But as Gandalf tells Frodo:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”3
I have decided to use the time given to me to work on personal development, individual responsibility, and contributing to the collective good of the world by working toward constant improvement of myself and how I can most effectively “see things right” in order to “set things right.” What will you do?
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7
Take time this week to meditate/contemplate the Energizing Dyad of of Zeal/Power. Affirm: In God I live, move, and have my being. Repeat until you feel it deep in your heart. Allow the idea to move you into action. How do you express being in God?
1Pierson, Phillip, The Twelve Freedoms: An Understandable Path to Total Freedom, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 16, 2015).
2Plutchik, Robert (1997-01-01). The circumplex as a general model of the structure of emotions and personality. American Psychological Association. pp. 17–45.
3Tolkien, J.R.R. The Fellowship of the Ring. London: Allen & Unwin, 1954.