Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Love Your Enemies” Sermon

November 1957.

The transcript below is from: https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/ I removed parts of the transcript, which I felt weren’t crucial, to make it a slightly shorter read. I find this a beautiful and insightful description of the nature and power of love.

His sermon follows:

So I want to turn your attention to this subject: “Loving Your Enemies.” It’s so basic to me because it is a part of my basic philosophical and theological orientation: the whole idea of love, the whole philosophy of love. In the fifth chapter of the gospel as recorded by Saint Matthew, we read these very arresting words flowing from the lips of our Lord and Master: “Ye have heard that it has been said, ‘Thou shall love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”

Certainly these are great words, words lifted to cosmic proportions. And over the centuries, many persons have argued that this is an extremely difficult command. Many would go so far as to say that it just isn’t possible to move out into the actual practice of this glorious command. They would go on to say that this is just additional proof that Jesus was an impractical idealist who never quite came down to earth. So the arguments abound. But far from being an impractical idealist, Jesus has become the practical realist. The words of this text glitter in our eyes with a new urgency. Far from being the pious injunction of a utopian dreamer, this command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies.

Now let me hasten to say that Jesus was very serious when he gave this command; he wasn’t playing. He realized that it’s hard to love your enemies. He realized that it’s difficult to love those persons who seek to defeat you, those persons who say evil things about you. He realized that it was painfully hard, pressingly hard. But he wasn’t playing. And we cannot dismiss this passage as just another example of Oriental hyperbole, just a sort of exaggeration to get over the point. This is a basic philosophy of all that we hear coming from the lips of our Master. Because Jesus wasn’t playing; because he was serious. We have the Christian and moral responsibility to seek to discover the meaning of these words, and to discover how we can live out this command, and why we should live by this command.

Now first let us deal with this question, which is the practical question: How do you go about loving your enemies? I think the first thing is this: In order to love your enemies, you must begin by analyzing self. And I’m sure that seems strange to you, that I start out telling you this morning that you love your enemies by beginning with a look at self. It seems to me that that is the first and foremost way to come to an adequate discovery to the how of this situation. Now, I’m aware of the fact that some people will not like you, not because of something you have done to them, but they just won’t like you. I’m quite aware of that. Some people aren’t going to like the way you walk; some people aren’t going to like the way you talk. Some people aren’t going to like you because you can do your job better than they can do theirs. Some people aren’t going to like you because other people like you, and because you’re popular, and because you’re well-liked, they aren’t going to like you. Some people aren’t going to like you because your hair is a little shorter than theirs or your hair is a little longer than theirs. Some people aren’t going to like you because your skin is a little brighter than theirs; and others aren’t going to like you because your skin is a little darker than theirs. So that some people aren’t going to like you. They’re going to dislike you, not because of something that you’ve done to them, but because of various jealous reactions and other reactions that are so prevalent in human nature.

But after looking at these things and admitting these things, we must face the fact that an individual might dislike us because of something that we’ve done deep down in the past, some personality attribute that we possess, something that we’ve done deep down in the past and we’ve forgotten about it; but it was that something that aroused the hate response within the individual. That is why I say, begin with yourself. There might be something within you that arouses the tragic hate response in the other individual.

……….. King discusses political systems and how self analysis is helpful there too.

And this is what Jesus means when he said: “How is it that you can see the mote in your brother’s eye and not see the beam in your own eye?” Or to put it in Moffatt’s translation: “How is it that you see the splinter in your brother’s eye and fail to see the plank in your own eye?” And this is one of the tragedies of human nature. So we begin to love our enemies and love those persons that hate us whether in collective life or individual life by looking at ourselves.

A second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy, and every time you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points. I’ve said to you on many occasions that each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality. We’re split up and divided against ourselves. And there is something of a civil war going on within all of our lives. There is a recalcitrant South of our soul revolting against the North of our soul. And there is this continual struggle within the very structure of every individual life. There is something within all of us that causes us to cry out with Ovid, the Latin poet, “I see and approve the better things of life, but the evil things I do.” There is something within all of us that causes us to cry out with Plato that the human personality is like a charioteer with two headstrong horses, each wanting to go in different directions. There is something within each of us that causes us to cry out with Goethe, “There is enough stuff in me to make both a gentleman and a rogue.” There is something within each of us that causes us to cry out with Apostle Paul: “I see and approve the better things of life, but the evil things I do.”

So somehow the “isness” of our present nature is out of harmony with the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts us. And this simply means this: That within the best of us, there is some evil, and within the worst of us, there is some good. When we come to see this, we take a different attitude toward individuals. The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hates you most has some good in it; even the race that hates you most has some good in it. And when you come to the point that you look in the face of every man and see deep down within him what religion calls “the image of God,” you begin to love him in spite of. No matter what he does, you see God’s image there. There is an element of goodness that he can never slough off. Discover the element of good in your enemy. And as you seek to hate him, find the center of goodness and place your attention there and you will take a new attitude.

Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.

………………. King discusses the Greek language’s 3 types of Love (Eros, Philia, and Agape)

The Greek language comes out with another word for love. It is the word agape, and agape is more than eros. Agape is more than philia. Agape is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of men. And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love men, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them. You look at every man, and you love him because you know God loves him. And he might be the worst person you’ve ever seen.

And this is what Jesus means, I think, in this very passage when he says, “Love your enemy.” And it’s significant that he does not say, “Like your enemy.” Like is a sentimental something, an affectionate something. There are a lot of people that I find it difficult to like. I don’t like what they do to me. I don’t like what they say about me and other people. I don’t like their attitudes. I don’t like some of the things they’re doing. I don’t like them. But Jesus says love them. And love is greater than like. Love is understanding, redemptive goodwill for all men, so that you love everybody, because God loves them. You refuse to do anything that will defeat an individual, because you have agape in your soul. And here you come to the point that you love the individual who does the evil deed, while hating the deed that the person does. This is what Jesus means when he says, “Love your enemy.” This is the way to do it. When the opportunity presents itself when you can defeat your enemy, you must not do it.

Now for the few moments left, let us move from the practical how to the theoretical why. It’s not only necessary to know how to go about loving your enemies, but also to go down into the question of why we should love our enemies. I think the first reason that we should love our enemies, and I think this was at the very center of Jesus’ thinking, is this: that hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and go on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. It just never ends. Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person. The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. And that is the tragedy of hate, that it doesn’t cut it off. It only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. Somebody must have religion enough and morality enough to cut it off and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of love.

I think I mentioned before that sometime ago my brother and I were driving one evening to Chattanooga, Tennessee, from Atlanta. He was driving the car. And for some reason the drivers were very discourteous that night. They didn’t dim their lights; hardly any driver that passed by dimmed his lights. And I remember very vividly, my brother A. D. looked over and in a tone of anger said: “I know what I’m going to do. The next car that comes along here and refuses to dim the lights, I’m going to fail to dim mine and pour them on in all of their power.” And I looked at him right quick and said: “Oh no, don’t do that. There’d be too much light on this highway, and it will end up in mutual destruction for all. Somebody got to have some sense on this highway.”

Somebody must have sense enough to dim the lights, and that is the trouble, isn’t it? That as all of the civilizations of the world move up the highway of history, so many civilizations, having looked at other civilizations that refused to dim the lights, and they decided to refuse to dim theirs. And Toynbee tells that out of the twenty-two civilizations that have risen up, all but about seven have found themselves in the junkheap of destruction. It is because civilizations fail to have sense enough to dim the lights. And if somebody doesn’t have sense enough to turn on the dim and beautiful and powerful lights of love in this world, the whole of our civilization will be plunged into the abyss of destruction. And we will all end up destroyed because nobody had any sense on the highway of history. Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.

There’s another reason why you should love your enemies, and that is because hate distorts the personality of the hater. We usually think of what hate does for the individual hated or the individuals hated or the groups hated. But it is even more tragic, it is even more ruinous and injurious to the individual who hates. You just begin hating somebody, and you will begin to do irrational things. You can’t see straight when you hate. You can’t walk straight when you hate. You can’t stand upright. Your vision is distorted. There is nothing more tragic than to see an individual whose heart is filled with hate. He comes to the point that he becomes a pathological case. For the person who hates, you can stand up and see a person and that person can be beautiful, and you will call them ugly. For the person who hates, the beautiful becomes ugly and the ugly becomes beautiful. For the person who hates, the good becomes bad and the bad becomes good. For the person who hates, the true becomes false and the false becomes true. That’s what hate does. You can’t see right. The symbol of objectivity is lost. Hate destroys the very structure of the personality of the hater.

And this is why Jesus says hate, that you want to be integrated with yourself, and the way to be integrated with yourself is be sure that you meet every situation of life with an abounding love. Never hate, because it ends up in tragic, neurotic responses. Psychologists and psychiatrists are telling us today that the more we hate, the more we develop guilt feelings and we begin to subconsciously repress or consciously suppress certain emotions, and they all stack up in our subconscious selves and make for tragic, neurotic responses. And may this not be the neuroses of many individuals as they confront life that that is an element of hate there. And modern psychology is calling on us now to love. But long before modern psychology came into being, the world’s greatest psychologist who walked around the hills of Galilee told us to love. He looked at men and said: “Love your enemies; don’t hate anybody.” It’s not enough for us to hate your friends because—to to love your friends—because when you start hating anybody, it destroys the very center of your creative response to life and the universe; so love everybody. Hate at any point is a cancer that gnaws away at the very vital center of your life and your existence. It is like eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective center of your life. So Jesus says love, because hate destroys the hater as well as the hated.

Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. You just keep loving people and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. Here’s the person who is a neighbor, and this person is doing something wrong to you and all of that. Just keep being friendly to that person. Keep loving them. Don’t do anything to embarrass them. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with bitterness because they’re mad because you love them like that. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. “love your enemies.”

….King gives example of Abraham Lincoln and Stanton.

That’s it. There is a power in love that our world has not discovered yet. Jesus discovered it centuries ago. Mahatma Gandhi of India discovered it a few years ago, but most men and most women never discover it. For they believe in hitting for hitting; they believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; they believe in hating for hating; but Jesus comes to us and says, “This isn’t the way.”

And oh this morning, as I think of the fact that our world is in transition now. Our whole world is facing a revolution. Our nation is facing a revolution, our nation. One of the things that concerns me most is that in the midst of the revolution of the world and the midst of the revolution of this nation, that we will discover the meaning of Jesus’ words. History unfortunately leaves some people oppressed and some people oppressors. And there are three ways that individuals who are oppressed can deal with their oppression. One of them is to rise up against their oppressors with physical violence and corroding hatred. But oh this isn’t the way. For the danger and the weakness of this method is its futility. Violence creates many more social problems than it solves. And I’ve said, in so many instances, that as the Negro, in particular, and colored peoples all over the world struggle for freedom, if they succumb to the temptation of using violence in their struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos. Violence isn’t the way.

Another way is to acquiesce and to give in, to resign yourself to the oppression. Some people do that. They discover the difficulties of the wilderness moving into the promised land, and they would rather go back to the despots of Egypt because it’s difficult to get in the promised land. And so they resign themselves to the fate of oppression; they somehow acquiesce to this thing. But that too isn’t the way because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.

But there is another way. And that is to organize mass non-violent resistance based on the principle of love. It seems to me that this is the only way as our eyes look to the future. As we look out across the years and across the generations, let us develop and move right here. We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make men better. Love is the only way. Jesus discovered that.

……Martin Luther King Jr. talks about military leaders realizing that love leads to more followers than force.

And our civilization must discover that. Individuals must discover that as they deal with other individuals. There is a little tree planted on a little hill and on that tree hangs the most influential character that ever came in this world. But never feel that that tree is a meaningless drama that took place on the stages of history. Oh no, it is a telescope through which we look out into the long vista of eternity, and see the love of God breaking forth into time. It is an eternal reminder to a power-drunk generation that love is the only way. It is an eternal reminder to a generation depending on nuclear and atomic energy, a generation depending on physical violence, that love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming power in the universe.

So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, “I love you. I would rather die than hate you.” And I’m foolish enough to believe that through the power of this love somewhere, men of the most recalcitrant bent will be transformed. And then we will be in God’s kingdom. We will be able to matriculate into the university of eternal life because we had the power to love our enemies, to bless those persons that cursed us, to even decide to be good to those persons who hated us, and we even prayed for those persons who despitefully used us.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

I don’t have anything to add to those powerful words. I will share some of my thoughts and feelings when I first stumbled upon this sermon on Youtube. I was deeply moved. I hadn’t often (if ever) heard such a strong faith in and reasoned argument for the ultimate power of love. My whole self seemed to be in agreement that this sermon’s message was beautiful and the good. “Yes this path of radical love is beautiful and good. I love this!”. Yet similar to when I watched the Grace vs. Nature section from Tree of Life (I shared in past post), something inside of me rose up quickly to deny that I (or any human) could ever truly love their enemy. It was as if first there was a “Yes, yes, this is the Truth, the answer!” but quickly this more cynical voice arose and said “Sure, but how?” or “This isn’t possible” or became aggressive towards myself “You don’t/couldn’t live like this!” or maybe even doubted the speaker “I bet he doesn’t really feel/live like this.”.

When I first encountered this sermon I had begun my journey/struggle back to myself, so the cynical voice inside me didn’t capture as much of my attention. It had always kept me from diving into the truth of the philosophy of love, but it didn’t seem to have that strength anymore. This sermon hit hard, that cynical voice was still there but the voice saying “Yes, yes, this is the Truth, the answer” was louder now and was able to outlive the cynical one. I was left seeing that I was not currently aware of a feeling of “loving my enemy” but that I wanted that feeling. I believed it was possible. I felt Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus had both discovered and lived, to a large extent, in the state of that radical love for all. I wondered what would it take for me to experience the love for all they had experienced and to live more in that state? But I had doubts, I worried that maybe it wasn’t possible for the average person to truly love their enemy or maybe it just wasn’t possible for someone like me. These worries gave me a sense of hopelessness and guilt. But another notion rose up around these feelings of worry and guilt, and it wondered “Was the hope and striving towards loving all, even if I was never able to experience it or live in it, in itself beautiful and good?”.

I knew I wanted to hear everything I could about this philosophy of love. I searched for more Martin Luther King Jr. sermon’s. I found his sermon “Unfulfilled Dreams” which helped me find my answer to whether my hope and striving towards love of all was enough or whether I must reach this goal of love of all. In his sermon “Unfulfilled Dreams” Martin Luther King Jr. says

“And then we come to that passage over in the eighth chapter of First Kings, which reads, “And it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the Lord God of Israel. And the Lord said unto David my father, ‘Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was within thine heart.’” And that’s really what I want to talk about this morning: it is well that it was within thine heart. As if to say, “David, you will not be able to finish the temple. You will not be able to build it. But I just want to bless you, because it was within thine heart. Your dream will not be fulfilled. The majestic hopes that guided your days will not be carried out in terms of an actual temple coming into being that you were able to build. But I bless you, David, because it was within thine heart. You had the desire to do it; you had the intention to do it; you tried to do it; you started to do it. And I bless you for having the desire and the intention in your heart. It is well that it was within thine heart.”

These words from Martin Luther King Jr. allowed me to understand and accept that my hope and striving for love of all (even my enemies) was good and beautiful in itself, even if the goal was never realized/lived.

This peace with where I was at, not yet aware of “loving my enemy” but striving for that state of love, was powerful. It freed me from guilt, which allowed me to drop some of my old defenses. Rather quickly, with those ego self defenses down, I was able to see there was no hate for “my enemy” in my heart. I didn’t see love. But recognizing there was no hate was a powerful early step in this journey to reconnect to myself/my child self/my real self, that self that lives in a state of love for all and everything.

A Turning From Inner Darkness to Inner Light

In my lowest depths of being lost, a meaninglessness of life and myself weighed heavy on me. I felt emptied out, neither happy or sad, just nothing. Every task, every day big and small was an annoying little burden. Nothing felt particularly challenging or painful just meaningless. Effort in any direction felt like too much effort. “What’s the point?” was the common mood. But somehow lost within these dark thoughts and feelings my true self remained unconvinced. She was somewhat afraid and kept reminding me “something is wrong, these thoughts are not you”. She sensed how far astray I had wandered from myself, how attentively and deeply I was staring into darkness and delusions, into meaninglessness.

In this state one of my favorite books, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, started popping into mind. Looking back, it seems my real self was trying to turn my attention to the light. Specifically it was the a character’s final realizations that kept arising within my mind: (Big Anna Karenina SPOILER below, so skip following quote if you want to avoid spoiler)

“but my life now, my whole life apart from anything that can happen to me, every minute of it is no more meaningless, as it was before, but it has the positive meaning of goodness, which I have the power to put into it.”

When I had read Anna Karenina many years before those words, that character, Tolstoy, had caught my attention and showed me a glimpse of the beautiful and good meaning within me, within us all, and within the world. I had been too lost within delusions (of myself and the world) at the time to see any truth to Tolstoy’s words though. I recognized how profound it was, but couldn’t see how it had any relevance to my “real life”. So my attention quickly moved back to the many distractions of “true” life.

Yet my heart must have stored away Tolstoy’s words. For when the many delusions/darkness (which I had been staring into for as long as I can remember) started to feel meaningless, suddenly I was free to turn my attention elsewhere. I started encountering my real self more often. This idea from Tolstoy, my “power” to add even a small “positive meaning of goodness” to life, was one of the earliest beautiful and good ideas I kept encountering. Others followed as she poured out the beautiful and good (sacred even) thoughts, feelings, and dreams, etc. which I had gathered through life and protected away in my heart.

Finally I was back to myself and the world. For the first time in my adult life I was facing the beautiful and the good with enough freedom from delusions/darkness to have FAITH. Faith that there was truth in beauty and goodness It wasn’t a truth I could immediately see, but I was determined to no longer reject it outright as false. The old life long beliefs had finally shown their real face, paths of emptiness and meaninglessness to an empty and meaningless destination. They no longer had any appeal. I was determined to find and see the goodness and the beauty everywhere. It felt my heart already knew it was there (maybe it remembers what we can not from childhood). I started seeking out others’ visions and understandings throughout history on the beauty and the goodness (on that which they love).

A Surprising Fear. The Fear of Love?

Life has been going smoothly. Each day has a rhythm and flow to it. The critical judging mind, the guilting mind, the resisting mind, haven’t been as present as they once were. They do still arise, but I am able to more effortlessly remain unengaged to them, and they fade away. I feel I am still learning and growing, but in a more peaceful and painless way. Mistakes aren’t felt as mistakes so much as just part of life. Life involves a never-ending learning process.

I feel I have the energy and courage to find a flow I enjoy each day, including little steps in building towards future hopes. There is one aspect of life I do still feel uncertain of. As strange as it is to say I may be afraid of LOVE. Both the showing of love and the receiving of love.

This is still hazy to me. It is something I am discovering about myself. There is a resistance in me to the whole idea, which usually indicates there’s a painful truth I’m avoiding. I live freer now of my self judgments and the judgments of others. I’m happier, more optimistic, more productive, less stuck in my mind. But am I more loving? I’d say I am definitely less critical of those around me. I also am a happier person to be around then I used to be. I still notice others’ moods, but don’t as often get personally wrapped in them or feel a frustrating responsibly that I’m suppose to “fix” their moods. This allows me to listen more and to simply sit with an understanding of how someone else feels. I feel I interact with more grace.

So some significant unhealthy bad habits have been removed, but are the good habits growing up in the new space? I think in some ways yes in some ways no. I sometimes feel I have spent so long tossing and turning within my own mind that I have never had space and time to think of others. I haven’t yet built up the skills of being present with others and letting them be present with me. I am trying to learn those now.

There are some things I’m noticing as I try to more freely venture into the world. One is that with the slightest push back from others there is an almost overwhelming urge in me to pull back inwards. A thought like “Why do I put myself out there? I don’t need these people anyway. I am better off in my own little world.” will pop up. I guess it is those old worn beliefs and networks trying to get started, trying to get me to flee again. Offering protection, but luring me away from so much in life I find good and beautiful – other people.

Another pattern I notice is that if someone more directly and harshly pushes me away/dismisses me I can be flooded with wordless hurt. It feels empty of words and thoughts, just a pure sadness. Was it a pure sadness feeling like this that sent my child self fleeing inwards back when I was actually still a child. Was this what trained me to believe I couldn’t live freely in the world? I had to always watch myself/edit myself or I would be cast away by others?

I love people and want to be loved by them. But in between me and others there seems to lie red lights and stop signs, warnings. And they switch on with the tiniest hint, often it feels even imagined hint, that the other person “doesn’t like me”. It feels deep deep down inside, out of my awareness even, there is a belief that people do not like the real me. I do not know why it is so hidden. (Is it because it’s too painful? Is it because the belief was developed before I even had language?)

As I progress forward in this journey living as the real me it will be important for me to keep showing up freely in the world. Child me didn’t understand everyone has their own darkness they feel trapped in (their own distance from living freely as who they are and what they love). Child me didn’t know it was this pain in others, not something inherently ugly or bad in me, that led them to try to suppress my child self/hurt me. Due to this lack of understanding I suspect a wordless belief/fear grew in me. I came to believe there was something ugly or bad in me. Older, teenage me, still didn’t understand this darkness in others, and I suspect added another mistaken belief/fear to the mix. I began to believe it was uglyness and badness within others that caused them to hurt me. This idea could coat over some of the pain and fear there was something wrong with me, but the human world which I loved became scary, ugly, and bad. My understanding of the world within and the world outside of me was in a total state of confusion and contradiction. My heart sometimes seemed to recognize this confusion it in a wordless way. But my mind was sure I knew the harsh truth, and in order to “get by” I had to live it.

As I have lived I have learned, and I have come to believe that neither me or anyone else is ugly or bad, merely many of us have turned our sights away from the light of what we find beautiful and good (what we love). Usually this turn into the darkness is brought about very early in life due to some sort of pain and fear of more pain. However, it feels this new belief and the lifestyle that flows from it does not simply make the older more worn beliefs and lifestyles disappear. If I were a logical being I would simply discard those old inaccurate models of the world, yet it seems I am an emotional being who can not so simply do so. I believe this is why in matters of giving and receiving love there is quickness in me to feel the urge to flee (the old “This person doesn’t like me because I am bad or ugly inside” system getting activated) or attack (the old “This person doesn’t like me because he/she is bad or ugly inside” system getting activated).

These beliefs on hair trigger make social interactions feel uneasy. I believe as I practice not engaging with the old beliefs and their systems and instead engage with my new belief and system the power of the old will fade and the power of the new will increase. (I imagine it working like weights do in machine learning.) I have faith that with practice I can overcome my old belief and fear of being unloved. I have faith I can more effortlessly remain present with others, show love to others, and enjoy the love that is shown to me.

Voyager’s Golden Record

Image from NASA website.
Image from NASA website.

In 1977 two satellites (Voyager 1 and Voyager 2) were sent into space. A record, referred to as the “Golden Record”, was put on both. If one of the satellites is found by intelligent life in the universe, this record is our attempt to communicate about us and our planet. The NASA website states each record includes “115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind and thunder, birds, whales, and other animals…..musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from President Carter and U.N. Secretary General Waldheim”.

NASA is tracking these 2 satellites. On NASA’s website they show where each satellite is currently in space. Both voyagers are now traveling outside of our solar system. Voyager 1 is about 14 million miles from Earth and Voyager 2 is about 11 million miles from Earth.

I find the idea behind this record and this record beautiful. It puts life into perspective. We are all past, present, and future interconnected and the same.

This is some of what is on the Golden Record:

“I send greetings on behalf of the people of our planet. We step out of our solar system into the universe, seeking only peace and friendship. To teach if we are called upon, to be taught if we are fortunate. We know full well that our planet and all it’s inhabits are but a small part of this immense universe that surround us. And it is with humility and hope that we take this step.”
This video shows the 115 images included on the Golden Record. While it shows the images one of the songs included on the record plays in the background. There are 90 minutes of music from around the world on the Golden Record.
The audio greetings in 55 languages that are included on the Golden Record.

If you are interested in learning more here’s the NASA’s webpage on the Golden Record: https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/golden-record/