Why the name "Basileia"?
I discovered the word "basileia" (bah si LAY a) in Walter Wink's The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium, a book, recommended by my spiritual mentor. The book had a great impact on my understanding of power-with vs. power-over/under leadership.
"Basileia" is a Greek word (βασιλεία) meaning kingdom or reign. Wink, a Christian theologian, highlighted that "basileia" is used in the New Testament to mean the new world order exemplified by the life of Jesus. It is contrasted with the existing world order of the time (Roman domination) which was called “kosmos” (κόσμος).In the book, Wink focuses on this passage:
You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give them your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.
The Basileia Logo
In the design of the Basileia logo, the circle represents equivalence and connection among the group. The leader within the circle, arms outstretched, holds the space for the group. The circle is the horizontal, gentle connection of the group.
The arrow running up through the circle represents shared purpose, accountability and direction, that we are part of something bigger than us that matters. The arrow is the vertical, fierce connection to purpose that advances our group forward.
Wink suggests Jesus is not telling us to submit to oppression or to react violently, “but to refuse to oppose it on its own terms. We are not to let the opponent dictate the methods of our opposition. He is urging us to transcend both passivity and violence by finding a *third way,* one that is at once assertive and yet nonviolent.”
For example, to “turn the other cheek,” is to force the opponent to shift from the humiliating backhand (of a master to a slave) to strike a blow with the fist which is only done among equals.
To “give them your cloak” is to shift from the humiliation of a system that strips the person of their land, their goods and even their outer garments, to shaming the creditors who cause their nakedness.
To “walk the second mile” is to go beyond the legal limit of forced labor that Roman soldiers could require, and to put the soldier at risk of an infraction of military code and subject to punishment.
What I became aware of through this book was the *power* of power-with leadership. That it is not passive, or soft, but in fact fiercely powerful while still holding each person with respect and care. Both fierce and gentle. Seeing each other as equals. That is Conscious Leadership.
For me the word "basileia" reminds me that the work I am engaged in is a transformation of human relationship, of leadership, and of the structures and organizations that we create to hold us as human beings. The basis of this transformation is valuing human beings intrinsically while we also value the life-serving purpose that matters to us.