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Working in partnership, we can replace systems of domination with systems of partnership

Blog post

On June 28, 2011, Lisa Fujie Parks, the Partnership’s Prevention Program Manager, had the pleasure of making opening remarks at the Ending Violence Against Women and Teen Dating Violence Forum for California prevention advocates. Below is an excerpt from those remarks that highlight wellness practices, and celebrate the power of partnership, as the opposite of domination. 

Recently I returned from regional trainings and meetings, which you may have participated in. The California Department of Public Health, Transforming Communities, the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, CALCASAand 7 Local Partners were all involved. It was a great collaborative effort, and we had the opportunity to be in 7 different cities and meet with over 100 prevention advocates. 

While we were down in Los Angeles, I was going through a particularly grueling time, and in the interest of authentic connection, I let folks know that I was feeling the stress of some state policy issues, and frankly quite exhausted from having returned the day before from presenting at a conference in Florida. I asked if anyone else felt exhausted, and by golly, almost everyone in the entire room raised their hand. It was a moment of connection and empathy, and also a moment of concern. 

In addition to hearing about some of the sources of exhaustion at that meeting, we engaged in discussions about some of the pressing interests, concerns and opportunities facing prevention advocates, our organizations and communities. I heard many stories that will continue to ground and direct our work at The Partnership as we mobilize a statewide prevention network in California through advocacy, leadership and capacity-building.

At the Partnership we are strengthening our wellness practices, and last week, my colleague Jacquie Marroquin led an exercise which was so simple and exquisite, called, “catch your breath.” She spoke about how we are often literally running from one place to another, with a dozen or two dozen tasks on our mind at any given moment. Exhausting, yes? One of the best ways to nourish and sustain our wellness is to practice greater attention to the present moment. And one great way to do that is to listen to your breath. 

So I invite you to do that now. Let’s all take a moment to breathe deeply and pay attention to our breath. Listen to your breath as you inhale and exhale. Give your body the oxygen it needs and deserves and allow your heart and your body to settle, relax and become more open and energized. 

As we continue to breathe, and pay attention to our breath, I want to briefly share some thoughts about the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. Mostly I want to tell you is that I love saying that I work for the Partnership, in part, because I love the word partnership! 

Partnership has influenced my life in countless ways, including my intimate relationships, my family relationships, my parenting relationship with my daughter, my relationship to my neighborhood and communities, and of course, my activism and work. 

Dr. Riane Eisler, whom some of you may know as the author of the international best-seller, The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future, talks about the difference between partnership and domination, and that, in fact, partnership is the opposite of domination. 

Systems of domination lead individuals and groups to oppress, wage war, terrorize, and subjugate others. On the other hand, Partnership is a way of structuring beliefs, institutions, and relations that supports the realization of our enormous human capacities for consciousness, caring, and creativity. The Partnership system, she advocates, emphasizes mutual respect and a fundamental awareness of the sacredness of all life. Partnership is a solid approach to families, businesses, communities, and the world. 

While, as we know, political and personal relationships based on domination, inevitably result in misery and violence. Political and personal relationships based on partnership foster respect, love, an explosion of creativity, and promote nonviolence, human rights, justice and a sustainable natural world. 

Partnerships are not rigid. They are responsive and evolving. They are a dance. I practice partnership in every aspect of my life. And my commitment to partnership, not domination, is one of the reasons I am so grateful to be a part of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, and so grateful for the opportunity to practice partnership with you. 

There are many of you who have been connected to the Partnership’s growing prevention network over the last 6 years, and we all thank you deeply for the partnership. And there are many upcoming opportunities to be involved with and connected to this network. 

So let us remember that working in partnership we increase our power, scope, knowledge and connection to ending domestic violence, sexual violence and teen dating violence in California. In partnership, we are smarter, stronger, and more effective. Working in partnership, we can replace systems of domination with systems of partnership, in our lives, families, communities, country and the world. Thank you for all the ways we have partnered. And cheers to much more joyous and proud partnering to come.