Yesterday I began our discussion about the stewardship of creation. I referenced that the word "dominion" creates all sorts of issues for us in terms of our care for Mother Earth. Today I want to talk more deeply about how ‘dominion’ causes issues and corrupts our understanding of care-takers, custodians, gardeners — stewards of the Sacred’s creation.
The Matrix will be our jumping off point. The idea of the Matrix is that artificial intelligence has found a way to turn humans into batteries that allow them to continue to function and rule earth. Neo, is ‘the one,’ the hope to bring balance back between machine and human. Morpheus searches his entire awakened life for Neo. Having found Neo, he frees him from the matrix and then explains it to him.
In this scene, Neo is learning what the matrix is and how it was created…
Morpheus brings Neo into the construct — an in-between space — between the real world and the matrix. The construct allows them to upload anything they need before going into the matrix. It offers them a way to educate their new members and prepare them for what they will encounter once entering the Matrix.
Morpheus: This is the construct, our loading program. We can load anything from clothing to equipment, weapons, training simulations — anything we need.
Neo: Right now we are inside a computer program?
Morpheus: Is it really so hard to believe? Your clothes are different. The plugs are no longer in your arms. Your appearance is now the mental projections of your digital self….
Morpheus (turning on a TV): This is the world that you know, the world as it was at the end of the 20th century. It exists now only as a part of a neuro-interactive simulation that we call the Matrix. You’ve been living in a dream world Neo. This is the world as it exists today.
Morpheus changes the channel on the TV to show devastation, destruction, no sun, only machines, thunder and lightening, darkness. The camera then spans itself down to the base of a cliff where Morpheus and Neo are sitting.
Morpheus: Welcome to the desert of the Real. We have only bits and pieces of information, but what we know for certain is that at some point in the early 21st century all of humankind was united in celebration. We marveled at our own magnificence are we gave birth to AI.
Neo: AI? You mean artificial intelligence?
Morpheus: A singular consciousness that spawned an entire race of machines. We don’t know who struck first — us or them. But we know that it was us that scorched the sky. At the time they were dependent upon solar power and it was believed that they would be unable to survive without an energy source as abundant as the Sun. Throughout human history we have been dependent upon machines to survive.
Fate it seems is not without a sense of irony. The human body generates more energy that a 120 volt battery and over 5000 btus of body heat. Combined with a form of fusion, the machines had found all the energy they would ever need…
Morpheus continues to explain to Neo what the Matrix is — a form of control that turns humans into a battery…
Arrogance trips us up every time.
This scene in the Matrix reminds us of what can happen when we are arrogant and caught up in our own magnificence. We begin to think that nothing can harm us. Humans are so powerful and intelligent that nothing can take their place, overwhelm, overpower them; so no worries about our actions.
In the Matrix, humans create artificial intelligence which then began a life of its own, overpowering humanity, creating war, devastation and destruction. Agent Smith, Neo’s arch nemesis in the matrix, speaks of humans as ‘a virus, infecting everything around it with death and destruction.’
This is where arrogance can take us. We can see the signs, the warning that we are being caught up in our own arrogance, especially now.
Our President and many in our national government do not believe in climate change. They have withdrawn us from the Paris Accords and are undoing other environmental protections so that humans can hunt and have as much oil as they desire.
This arrogance, just like in the Matrix, will lead nowhere good.
This is not what the Sacred asked of us when God gave us ‘dominion’ over “over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."
The Oxford dictionary definition of dominion:
1. sovereignty or control.
"man's attempt to establish dominion over nature"
synonyms: supremacy · ascendancy · dominance · domination · [more]
2. the territory of a sovereign or government.
I was curious about sovereignty. When we contemplate dominion in regards to sovereignty it shifts the meaning for me. Dominion is not domination. Rather, it is about ruling, government oriented ruling, not domination ruling.
Wikipedia defines sovereignty this way:
"Sovereignty is understood in jurisprudence as the full right and power of a governing body to govern itself without any interference from outside sources or bodies. In political theory, sovereignty is a substantive term designating supreme authority over some polity. It is a basic principle underlying the dominant Westphalian model of state foundation."
When I contemplate what it means to be an ethical rulers, governor, sovereign — it means that we are responsible for all that is under our governance. Everything is under our protection. It is our responsibility to protect all of nature: flowers, trees, animals, birds, fish, water, earth, etc. We must protect our resources so that they continue to be available for our people and the generations to come.
It is short-sighted as a ruler, a governor to use and abuse your resources. There will be nothing available for you, your people, your children, your descendants. Then as ruler, you have no legacy to pass down.
However, if you are a kind, compassionate, generous ruler and governor — one who protects your resources, creates optimum conditions for Mother Earth to grant abundance, cares for all who are under your protection — then you have a legacy to pass down generations.
Dominion requires humility and compassion:
The Sacred’s call for humanity to have dominion over creation is more like the compassionate ruler who protects and cares for all that is in his/her realm.
Genesis chapter two, God put the earth creature (human) in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. God’s idea of dominion was to til and keep the Earth. All the earth’s resources are there to feed and shelter humanity as well as all other creatures and being on Earth.
Lessons from the Matrix:
Unless we want to end up like the humans in the Matrix: either enslaved on a devastated earth or hiding in Zion at the core of the earth, we must re-think ‘dominion’ and allow its true definition to become our working connotation.
Stewardship invites us to till the Earth, to garden it. Stewardship invites us to be ethical compassionate keepers of all creation.
What is your inner definition and experience of dominion?
How would you like to shift that definition to be more in alignment with the Sacred’s invitation?
How are you tilling the land you have been gifted?
When are you participating as a compassionate keeper of Mother Earth and all who live upon her?
Pastor Jocelyn Emerson weaves together her training as a Light and Energy worker, Reiki master, spiritual director, and Pastor with her life experience as a mystic and contemplative to offer a space of trust, safety, and honesty to support you on your life's journey.