Our cultures and subcultures may be different, our skin a different color, and our language and religions may be different, but we are not essentially different. We all have ego and heart.
Ego and heart are the least common denominators of humanity; however, all the expansion and overlay of unique, personal characteristics of family, race, ethnicity, gender, physiology, and psychology create a dynamic, complex world. To understand the base of it all helps me to understand others and myself, my superhero me, in relation to other superheroes.
We can engage in the fellowship of the heart, a union in which we maintain our unique identities, both individually and culturally, yet work together in love and light, creating and living purpose, facing challenges, simply being happy in our personal truth, and enjoying equality, freedom, and mutual dignity.
The issue in all of these matters is choosing to operate with heart as our driving force. Ego has its value, and we need to use it, recognize when it’s operating, and pay attention to it. When it comes to living all we came to experience — love, creativity, peace, happiness, intimacy, fellowship, and many other things — we need to awaken and engage heart.
Heart-energy must be employed in the development of policies, courses of action, legislation, and governance, if we want true equality and freedom because heart is the faculty with which we have been equipped to live these. Heart-energy must also guide us individually, if we want personal significance, fulfillment, and happiness.
Yes, government must ensure certain ego practices and rules do not destroy others, do not favor one group over another, nor embed racism in a nation. The individuals who propose, debate, compromise, write, and enact legislation need to be operating in heart-energy. Laws borne of ego are unjust laws; they must be disobeyed, protested, and nullified.
We inhabitants of Earth are experiencing a major shift in understanding our interconnectedness, and without heart being the driving and designing force in shaping ourselves as individuals and our interactions as human beings with one another, we have little hope for the sort of nation envisioned by leading founders of the United States. Even though imperfect, subject to ego, and flawed in practice, they implemented a government that could continue evolving.
We can each choose to love self, live in purpose of that self, and and love others. That’s superhero awesomeness! (Photo by Mark Hayward on Unsplash)Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King lived in this spirit. They did not sit still, bowed under the marginalization, rejection, abuse, and hopelessness into which a white-engineered society cast them. Faced with centuries of oppression in a society under a government rigged to keep things exactly as they were, Maya and Martin worked their magic, produced hope, and instigated change.
With full knowledge of the way things were, they chose to express their personal truth and purpose, knowing that whatever others thought, whatever the consequences, whatever their success or rejection, they were doing the only thing they could honestly do: live true Self.
Oppression, burdens, and hardships may elicit a variety of responses from us humans: we may succumb, wilt, and be crushed. We may learn to live with bowed backs and downcast eyes, ignoring the enslavement, accepting it as normal. Or we may choose to live in heart energy and radiate light and love and strive to shine, love, and establish a more just society.
When people choose the way of the heart, others who have chosen ego don’t always like it, even when they have been and still are the ones who have historically held power. If society and legislation begins to change too rapidly, these egotists will claim things like reverse discrimination, their voice is not being heard, or their rights have been abrogated. They cry that the government must protect them, and the only way to do that, in their estimation, is to control government. Of course, that is what they have always done.
In all spiritual reality, such people fear true equality and freedom. They seek to remain in ego control through spurious claims of being marginalized themselves and their voices being unheard. They fear those who do not look like them or live life like them, who do not practice the same religion, who do not hold the same values in the same way.
Efforts to rig the laws and society in favor of one group over another is powered by ego. Haters should not get to make the laws, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum; they should not be the ones who dictate the structure and interactions of society or determine that one culture, people, or another has no right to exist in the light of day. All do.
A full palette of colors, scarves that could be worn in any way, many possible combinations — all are woven in the same way, though, with warp and weft strands. We all have ego and heart overlaid with and supporting our rich diversity. Choose to honor that in self and others. (Photo by Siora Photographyon Unsplash)Such is the call of Maya when she says, “Do not be wedded forever to fear, yoked eternally to brutishness.” We need not write legislation based on fear, littleness, and a calculating, self-serving spirit. We must begin to divorce ego from our public policy and personal lives.
Those who are committed to the light, who have a vision borne of Spirit and heart are the ones who make a positive difference, the ones who can be wedded to love and enjoy the fellowship of the heart at the table of mutual friendship. I want to be there. I accept Martin’s invitation and enter into contract with Maya to begin simply by being a decent human being, by listening to and learning from Nature’s view of our history, and by greeting my sisters and brothers with respect and understanding.
Until recently, I didn’t know that Maya Angelou was born on the same date as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death: April 4. That surprises me and affirms some things to me because I analyze and respond to one expression of each of their works in this short book. The works represent a piece of their souls to me, even though the two choices represent only a small part of all they lived and did, of their stories.
Their lives intersected with one another. My life, because I chose it to be so, has joined with them. All of us can do the same. We can be superheroes in league with those who have worked so powerfully.
The next segment of Dr. Angelou’s poem names peoples who have been awakened and impassioned; at least some of them are prepared to hear the plain speech of the rock, river, and tree. The tree understands that all need the messages of Nature.
The groups mentioned here have experienced the throes of bigotry, prejudice, and destruction wrought by those who work in ego energy, those who plug their ears to the cry of the rock and fail to see the how they pollute the river with warlike attitudes; they refuse peace. How to respond to such a heavy history is the message of the tree; it leaves little to imagination or interpretation.
The twenty types of people, mentioned in the transition from the River to the Tree, seem to represent, perhaps, the most significant aspects of humanity. They arise from the litter of nationalism that hates and rejects those unlike themselves, nativistic thinkers who produce the detritus on the shores of the River as they inhumanely degrade and seek to destroy the Other.
The list of the Others includes the following categorizations of people: ethnicities, nationalities, religions, socioeconomic statuses, sexual orientations, and careers — a fairly broad spectrum of humanity. The agreement of this swath of humanity that harmonizes with the singing river and hears the plain, unvarnished truth of the speaking tree communicates to everyone, the hater and the hated, the oppressor and the oppressed, for deep down all have a Heart to know the truth of Spirit. They have “a true yearning to respond to / The singing river and the wise rock” because they need the comfort and the wisdom. They are the ones who may convey the messages of Nature to the rest of us. They are presented as the examples.
Not all, however, will listen to their own Heart; not all even know where to begin. Some purposefully shut out not only the voices of Nature and the soul of this world and universe, but also they reject the testimony of their own Heart and defer to Ego, that part of us which isolates from others and works to promote and preserve self at all costs in a multitude of ways, ways that sometimes include hate and destruction.
As the Tree develops its truth, we may come to see that we do not require ego for security, fulfillment, and peace. We are One, a unity; to heart, no Other exists.
In this last personification that Dr. Angelou employs, twenty different groups of people hear the “speaking of the tree,” people who experienced prejudice, bigotry, racism, and other forms of ostracism, oppression, and marginalization. These people have experienced varying degrees of enslavement around this globe. Mindless, needless, ego-fueled fears, jealousies, misunderstandings, and disrespect prompt hate-filled legislation and prejudiced practices. The gradual erosion of dignity leaves the oppressed with the worst enslavement of all: self-abnegation, a feeling and acceptance of inferiority and hopelessness and worthlessness. Nature says abdication of our true nature is unnatural.
The transition into the voice of the tree flows smoothly. Our heart-energy resonates with Spirit that is infused in the voices of Nature.
The tree invites each of us to “plant yourself beside me, here beside the river.” Before the tree gives the reason, however, a significant and long parenthesis is added: “Each of you, descendant of some passed on / Traveller, has been paid for.” The implication here takes the form of a debt that required settlement, a debt incurred by ego, which we allowed. When we ignore Heart, we defy the laws of Nature and lose a vital connection to the Universe. Nature gives examples of Spirit in all things, the same Spirit that is heart in each of us. We hold within us the higher frequencies of life, those that tend to peace, love, creativity, innovation, purpose, and happiness, and Nature knows this and seeks to evoke these from us.
The tree continues as she calls on Indigenous People who named all the trees but were driven from their lands by ego-controllers, by the same sort who claim that the almighty quest for wealth and power trumps everything. The tree calls on the People: “You Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, / You Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, / Then forced on bloody feet…” We should be aware: if we force anyone, any group away from their spiritual and natural heritage, we act in ego. However, if we have in the past, we may remember and toggle to heart-energy, for all of us have been paid for: we have heart.
Who abused the Indigenous People, and why did they do it? A number of ethnicities are listed, but the why is the most significant fact. The tribes who were forced to leave opened the way for those “Desperate for gain, starving for gold.” Ego doesn’t hesitate to destroy, abuse, or even kill for those things that have nothing to do with the deepest yearnings of us all, those qualities that we ultimately desire. Sometimes, egotists maintain they do what they do for peace, love, and the common good. They don’t; they are simply greedy. They lie not only to themselves but also anyone else who gives them credence.
Avarice produces a debt, so the tree says these named groups arrived “on a nightmare / Praying for a dream.” To some of these groups, money and gain became the dream, and enslaving and oppressing others proved to be useful tools; however, the ends never justify the means. No one gets to achieve their dreams — no matter how horrible their previous situation was — by oppressing, destroying, or killing others or Nature herself.
At times, things that seem positive, like seeking wealth and being highly motivated to pray for some dream, can become a nightmare if the motive force is ego. Exploring, discovering, and knowing who we are at heart-level will shape the dreams and prevent them from becoming nightmares.
The offer to root ourselves by Heart next to the tree stands. Will we receive that offer? (Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash)The tree offers the invitation: “root yourselves beside me. I am the tree planted by the river, which will not be moved.” Heart-energies of highest frequencies don’t change and don’t give out when times are tough. Nature reflects that.
Then, the three elements of Nature harmonize in their testimony to those seeking to know Self: “I, the rock, I the river, I the tree, I am yours…” Ego will sow discord, and sometimes we need discord to shake things up. When we recognize discord within and need to discover Self, we will not find false witness in Nature. We must listen to her.
In fact, they say, once again, “your passages have been paid.” Passages, journeys from our history painted mostly by ego, have cost us. Heart in us waits to be discovered, invited, and engaged to be our operating system, one that will set beauty, love, light, peace, creativity, and progress on a solid footing, nurtured and flowing with the right energy. Heart in us is the payment.
We have means to access Heart. We need not be bogged down: “Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need for this bright morning dawning…” Discovering self and creating purpose to pursue those things yielding happiness, fullness, and significance give us hope.
This offer is personal — “for you.” Heart allows us to explore our own past and view and evaluate it in truth: “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” Don’t deny. Accept, and then release it. Allow heart to lead onward and upward.
When we discover heart, we can dream good dreams, dreams that become purpose and vision and health, dreams that become personal and then, in turn, benefit, bless, and work together for all.
Dr. Angelou appeals to that heart desire of dreaming good things, positive, high-frequency energies of freedom to live with those natural, inherent rights of mutually respectful, mutually beneficial principles: “Give birth again to the dream. Women, children, men, take it into the palms of your hands, mold it into the shape of your most private need. Sculpt it into the image of your most public self.” All have dreams. None need ascribe to anyone else’s dream or truth. Heart-generated and -energized dreams give new clay to give new forms, new shapes, new dimensions to this world. When we can live, work, and respect one another in the spirit of the common good, we “sculpt it,” sculpt life, sculpt a new history using new material.
Living true to Self is the birth of the new dream and is the new clay. Discovering Self is not selfish. Spiritual awakening is the basis of governance that all may take advantage of expansive rights and freedom if any choose to. If none do, the government should still be based on heart-energies and heart-principles.
The past pall of ego over our history dissipates in the light of heart: “Do not be wedded forever to fear, yoked eternally to brutishness.” The propensity to accept war and destruction as natural is a lie. It does NOT have to be that way, and scheming, duplicitous political and governmental dealings for personal gain, even national, at the cost of others’ freedoms and rights are brutishness — against Nature.
How do we break free from those things which seem inevitable in an ego mindset? “The horizon leans forward, / Offering you space to place new steps of change.” Change for peace, equality, and a new history. Change that redefines ego-led lives with heart-energy. Redefines history. Redefines values. Redefines relationships.
Reform won’t do it. Reform looks at the past and tries to patch up or improve what is often an inherently faulty system based on ego. New horizons stretch before us.
Do we buy these ideas? Believe them? Do we fear them? Is it all too drastic? Listen: “You may have the courage to look up and out upon me, the rock, the river, the tree, your country.” Anyone can: “No less to Midas than the mendicant.” Equality enjoyed in terms of opportunity and freedom to choose regardless of socioeconomic status or regardless of history: “No less to you now than the mastodon then.” Throughout history, Spirit and Spirit’s Nature has offered the testimony of freedom, equality, and hope for harmony — even in the face of challenges that arise from the more brutal side of nature. Any principles, legislation, or persons who limit those qualities pervert the history we create.
We cannot hide from the past, but we can learn from it by listening to Heart. Our future could be vastly different — fulfilling, significant, purposeful, connected! What do you see in future sunrises? (Photo by Puria Berenji on Unsplash)How does it start, though? How could a new energy be introduced that changes the course of history? The rock, the river, and the tree say, “…look up and out and into your sister’s eyes, into your brother’s face, your country.” Recognize that a nation, other nations, governments, institutions, corporations, or any aggregate of people are made up of individuals to be treated and related to as such. Valued in fellowship. Valued in compassion. Valued in communication. Valued in a shared future of hope.
Therefore, the change, the redefinitions begin with you, with me, individuals. Is this too complicated? No, it’s choosing heart over ego to operate our lives. And that does not take much, really. Look into one another’s faces, knowing who we are, and “say simply, very simply, with hope, ‘Good morning.’”
Personification gives human qualities to non-human things; this technique allows communicators to create meaning and extract lessons from such elements that we humans can understand. It creates visualization and sympathy, among other qualities.
Dr. Angelou personifies Nature in this powerful, evocative work. Why would she? Perhaps she did this because in the normal course of events, we do not pay much attention, certainly political, ethical, or sociological attention, to rocks, rivers, or trees. They’re just there, we assume. However, giving them voice as Dr. Angelou does allows these elements of Nature the ability to evoke extraordinary human concerns, which is characteristic of the Romantic Period of literature.
The Rock cries, which indicates an alarm, a call to attention and awakening for us to take stock of where we have been and where we are headed. The River sings, which allures and moves us to observe the foolishness of greedy nationalism; then, the song turns to rebuke and a call to social action.
Music appeals to our emotions, and as the reader becomes enrapt in the song, we are suddenly directed to observe the ugly way we have polluted the River’s shores, symbolic of how society has polluted the dignity of humanity with bigotry and hatred borne of ego. Such lower level energies attract even lower ego energies, which will always result in more unfavorable issues like war and destruction. Our history is littered with these as reflected by the littered banks of the River.
Maya Angelou chose these images to leverage power to call us and move us to awaken. If we are to have any hope of movement towards societal progress, then we must hear Nature herself. We, apparently, have not acquired the sense the Rock, River, and Tree have to offer.
What Can We Learn from a River’s Song?: Maya Angelou’s Personification of Nature
Reading this poem of Maya Angelou’s, so reminiscent of Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman, and British Romantics in many ways, we wonder at the message this poem conveys, still applicable, now more than ever. The choice to personify elements of Nature like “the Rock, the River, the Tree” reveals Spirit-essence in all. The energies of life beat, vibrate, radiate from all in this Universe and wait to be tapped for their wisdom. We raise our minds, souls, and bodies to perceive these frequencies by choosing to hear heart, discover self, and create purpose — and humbly learn.
From the Rock’s testimony of the past, observations of the present, and prophecy of the future, we read and seamlessly slide into the voice of the River: “Across the wall of the world, / A river sings a beautiful song…” The River offers her shores, a place to consider her appeals to the soul.
Rivers have special insights into the ignoble motives that have caused men to form nations, since rivers often are considered boundaries. Much wisdom in listening to the river’s song! (Photo by Paula May on Unsplash)Not many of us consider the unnatural boundaries humanity has traced on the face of globes and maps, those shapes and entities defined by us as nations. To ego, they offer a sense of security in separation, arbitrary lines that many interpret as “This far and no further; we are better than you.” Quite often, rivers demarcate the borders: “Each of you a bordered country / Delicate and strangely made proud / Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.” One of the functions of ego is to isolate.
The existence of nations indicates ego-energy. Their existence illustrates how people, mostly men, deliberately chose ego and denied heart in establishing distinctions that create discord and, ultimately, war. From an ego standpoint, the military and declarations of war show strength; only delicate egos evaluate such blustering as strength.
Strong statement? The river would agree, wouldn’t it, Maya? The river’s estimate of nations recognizes that they are “delicate and strangely made proud…” Because they are artificial, they are weak, “delicate,” frail. They rise and fall, sometimes overnight — no cause for pride; therefore, this is strange and unnatural to the river.
Oh, yes, this is River’s intended message — no doubting: the nations are “thrusting perpetually under siege.” The unbridled expressions of hyper-nationalism seen both now in alarming expansion and throughout history in many countries might make egotists think they are powerful, but they’re not. They make no true peace with their constant cycles of war. Truly strong nations would not have to fight endlessly. Of course, examples of such nations are hard to find.
Why? The ability to wage wars — the only possible result of ego-fueled nationalism — is certainly not based on heart-energy. Rather, this penchant for flexing muscles derives from this: “Your armed struggles for profit / Have left collars of waste upon / My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.” The River frames her song not only with the beauty of passion but also with the accrued evidence, the facts of the detritus polluting its essence, the detritus of waging war for profit.
“Study war no more,” come in peace, and hear sweeter songs. (Photo by Anh Vyon Unsplash)Nature ravaged by the ego-choices of humanity, the unabashed dash for wealth, power, and control, results in death and destruction. The River has witnessed war from the inception of nations from its unique vantage point of being a border.
How can we learn the lessons from such keen observation, such deep wisdom? “If you will study war no more.” But what about them? What about the threats? What about those who won’t give us what we want? What about…? Keep asking the questions. The answer is the same: “Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs…” They are songs of peace, harmony, and natural order, the natural laws in place from the beginning “when I / And the tree and the stone were one.”
The founders of the United States of America expressed these tenets of natural law in their work, even though the reality of much of that law escaped them in practice, witnessed by the inhumane treatment of Indigenous Peoples and the fostering of slavery of Africans and others.
However, heart-energy observes these natural laws of human dignity, respect and care for the environment, equality, and freedom. Those in the fellowship of the heart know that individuals must have the opportunity to discover self and create purpose based on those parameters. They can, though, be protected by laws that harmonize with natural law. Progress in a nation framed by heart-energy should be marked by continued awakening and sensitivity to the messages of Nature and the pleas of activists like Dr. King and authors like Dr. Angelou.
When were these laws enacted? “Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your brow / And when you yet knew you still knew nothing.” No ego arguments, no rationalizations, no alarmist fears, no hubris and pounding of chests. River, in its ever-flowing course, has a song to sing to us of peace, harmony, and natural law, a song of heart-energy, Spirit itself. Cynicism reeks of superiority, breeds bigotry, and creates unhappiness. What response would tend to a harmonious flow, a peaceful society? Admitting we don’t know everything and all ideas are worthy of consideration.
There is no virtue in knowing everything, because no one does; even if anyone believes they know most everything about the most “important” things, they are liars and self-deceivers. All the unyielding political stances and always being right begin the pollution of the River. A false sense of omniscience is ego’s feeble attempt to control our world.
While some elements of humanity continue boastful foolishness, they do not and cannot stop the melody, for “The river sings and sings on.” Nature’s voice will not be silenced as long as we exist; its testimony exposes ego and evokes heart-energy to challenge us to experience life.
We can learn, create peace, and restore beauty. (Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash)The evidence of heart within each of us is found here with the River: “There is a true yearning to respond to / The singing river and the wise rock.” The fact that many of us long for a swift end to foolish ego hostilities and learn from Nature shows heart-energy operates in us and longs for productive peace. We want to respond. Hope.
Dr. King addressed social justice issues with direct, powerful, organized action, action intended not to incite riot but rather to incite love, forgiveness, healing, and equality. He wanted all to know freedom and have the opportunity to pursue happiness. He worked through direct social actions.
Maya Angelou knew Dr. King, and his work and death affected her deeply. After hearing him speak in Harlem in 1960, she produced a play with others and sent the proceeds to Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. This involvement eventually led her to be named the coordinator of the northern district of the Conference. During that time, she met Dr. King and later would say of him, “It is a great blessing to have lived in the time of Martin Luther King Jr., when forgiveness and generosity of spirit encouraged our citizenry to work for a better world for everybody” (Park. https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-maya-angelou-martin-luther-king-jr-20180404-story.html by Brian Park).
Great people of heart energy tend to inspire others who desire to live in that same vein of love. Maya Angelou did not go on to engage in overt social actions; she created her purpose to write and express her creativity and heart in other ways to live and encourage love.
Of all her works which could be discussed and analyzed, the following poem read from her famous recitation of “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993 harmonizes with the previous chapters on “Letter from Birmingham City Jail.”
The resonance with the messages of Dr. King and the literary movement of Romanticism calls for looking deeper into the human experience, beyond artifice and even science — exploring what it means to be us and how we relate to one another and this whole universe. Nature speaks to us, and if we listen, we may respond.
I would recommend listening to Maya Angelou’s poem before or in conjunction with the following chapters: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59xGmHzxtZ4).
“On the Pulse of Morning”: Maya, History, Nature, and Us
Maya Angelou observes the state of humanity and responds to it through the natural elements of “A Rock, A River, A Tree.”
The wisdom of the Rock tells us, basically, we have a lot to learn, the lessons are written large, and we can’t hide.
Why would she do this? It’s a literary tradition, but that’s not the reason. The reason it’s a literary tradition is the reason. Nature is the reason. The lessons Nature has to teach us are the reasons. Our intimate connection with, relationship to, and dependence on Nature is the reason.
The Romantic period writers of the past often used Nature to reflect the inner emotional state of humans, especially, as Maya does here, to expose the conditions of society or simply illustrate them. The Romantics were initiators of social change; the energy of their work fueled awareness and even some legislation. We are often slow to learn. We still need the lessons and always will; Dr. Maya Angelou knows that.
In the first eight lines of the poem, Maya introduces the Rock, River, and Tree as observers of history for eons, since the beginning of this planet Earth. They witnessed the life, approaching doom, and extinction of the mastodon adn dinosaurs. Is this foreshadowing, or does it predict others in danger of extinction, like humanity? Not if we listen to the wisdom of these elements of Nature, the ones to which we wouldn’t normally ascribe wisdom.
And the Rock, River, and Tree point out that while we may see the dry bones of dinosaurs like those to which the Rock refers, what we have failed, Failed, FAILED to see — to perceive, to intuit, to conclude — is the “broad alarm of their hastening doom.” We did not witness the process of the destructive dynamics involved in the extinction of the dinosaur or mastodon, but we may recognize the pattern in studying them.
Therefore, they will tell us, and we may learn, be warned, and rise to respond to the alarm, to all the alarms around us now.
“[T]he Rock cries out to us” by offering a vantage point. We are invited to stand upon its back, its solid, sure, unshakable back. For what reason? What purpose would that serve? Rock tells us that we “may stand upon [his] / Back and face [our] distant destiny.” We can see, know, perceive, and respond — if we would use Nature for the learning.
What might that imply? The Rock has a purpose that has not changed: it is firm, unmoving, and collects evidence of history. Therefore, the rock asks us, in essence, what our purpose is.
We have the ability to reason, being on a scale of creation “only a little lower than / The angels.” Our natural state here is one of peace, acceptance, kindness, and compassion in the face of difficulties. We have the ability to work through challenges and resolve conflicts to the end of freedom, freedom to love one another, to live in light, preserve human rights, and create as divinity.
We cannot claim ignorance; the witness of our Heart exposes the darkness of ugly greed for always being the best. Freedoms, rights, and love should guide our society — or we will be those bones in others’ museums.( Photo by fan yangon Unsplash)The alarm of our doom, as the mastodon’s did, billows around us, and if not heeded, we will join the dust of ages past. The rock observes that we “have crouched too long in / The bruising darkness, / Have lain too long / Face down in ignorance.” In the ignorance of ego, we have forsaken heart-energy of love, light, peace, creative enthusiasm, empathy, compassion, and all those emotions and qualities of the higher frequencies of life. When we remain willingly ignorant, we lose knowledge, energy, and dignity. We lose the primary focuses of life which we came here to enjoy.
Furthermore, the Rock tells us we should recognize the approach of our doom in the warlike atmosphere that grips the nations of Earth: “Your mouths spelling words / Armed for slaughter.”
War, destruction, and hatred are ego-energies. We have ego, and it helps form us by evoking creative tension; however, we have heart, eternal Spirit as the mature operating system, the one we came to live. We have the ability to think, explore, and discover. War, hatred, bullying, bravado, and boastful power are ego-energies we may rise above through toggling to the Heart Operating System. We need not remain in ignorance, an ignorance often adorned with the fineries of politics, government, and military considerations. No, peace does not sound from throats of nationalism or from those who trample everyone and everything to get to the bottom line.
The rock tells us we can gain a vantage point to discern all this, and it willingly offers itself to us. The warning, though, is we have no right to hide at its base, in its shadow, to continue living in the low vibrations of ego and claim that is human nature. It’s not. It’s a choice of which nature: ego or heart.
Do you know what seems unfair and bizarre? That those who are oppressed must change things, the ones who are the weakest in society, the ones who have been betrayed, belittled, and bullied. Personal, heart truth gives the motivation, courage, and perseverance to go on. Eventually, the privileged may come to help, but that doesn’t matter to those who live their purpose and truth.
Dr. King made commitments to causes he chose, invested in, and proved to be borne from the depths of his own heart. When we discover others working in the same heart-energy, we are brought to a place of fellowship and working together. We resonate and achieve significant goals.
When we do such, we shine a light on haters, and we expose those who work in the energy of ego to maintain control, wealth, and power to oppress others. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote this letter from a prison cell, one which he was placed in through an unjust application of a beneficial law. From that cell, he shined the light of love and reconciliation on an ego-controlled society, which was evident from the ugly racism of that time.
Martin Luther King’s Primary Objective in His “Letter from the Birmingham City Jail”: Peace and Brotherhood (and Sisterhood, equally!)
Dr. King doesn’t forget why he began this letter, and near the end, he continues to answer the troubling accusations of the letter that the white clergymen wrote. This response required intensive, sensitive thought because, more than anything, he loves others. However, he sheds light on the facts and exposes ego-energy that manifested hatred.
Some of the last rays of the light of this letter fall on those “keeping ‘order’ and ‘preventing violence,’” the police force (King 18). Those officers of the law — a stacked, racist, bigoted, hateful set of laws — acted in unjustified brutality that included unprovoked attacks by police dogs, shoving, slapping, and kicking old ladies and young girls, and refusing people food in jail. They starved the protesting prisoners because they forbid them to pray. These things and others, King will not praise; he only shows the facts in love, exposing the filth of unchecked, unreasonable minds fueled by ego.
He points out what oppressed people often experience: when the eyes of the public or media are on unfair, brutal, egocentric authorities, they appear to be in control and put on a show of compassion, supposedly for all concerned. Dr. King’s main point here is that brutality is never justified in handling others because “it is worn to use immoral means to attain moral ends…they have used the moral means of [apparent] nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of flagrant racial injustice” (King 19). Any authority who hides behind unjust laws and carries them out, especially with brutality or inhumanity, should not be allowed to hold their positions.
At the end of this paragraph, Dr. King quotes T. S. Eliot: “…there is no greater treason than to do the right deed for the wrong reason” (King 19). I take that sentiment into the depths of my being. Neither I nor authorities — presidents, police, legislators, ICE, border patrol, educators — have the right to violate the basic laws of nature or the rights and freedoms embedded in each human being.
Treating souls with degradation and inhumanity always marks Ego-energy. Each Heart loves and finds a way to deal in truth and care for fellow souls. As Dr. King nears the close of this masterpiece, he takes care to reveal those who did Heart-work, masterpieces themselves. Who were they?
Choosing to create society and govern by Heart means taking action. It will be powerful when we can get past Ego ignorance of white supremacy, hardcore nationalism, embedded racism, etc. and dig into mutually fruitful issues. (Photo by History in HD on Unsplash)MartinThe “real heroes…James Merediths, courageously and with a majestic sense of purpose, facing jeering and hostile mobs…old, oppressed, battered Negro women…who rose up with a sense of dignity…young high school and college students, young ministers…and a host of their elders courageously and non-violently sitting-in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience sake” (King 19, 20). In other words, these were those whose hearts committed to their truth and acted on it, no matter the cost.
No money, no power connections, no degrees required. They only lived their heart-truth. We all can do this in whatever our created purpose is. When we live our core Self in love and light, we know significance, fulfillment, and personal peace. Quite often, we change the world, at least our little piece of it, and find we are involved in things much larger than ourselves.
Dr. King recognizes this: “One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream…carrying our whole nation back to…the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence” (King 20). I would say that living a heart-truth by sitting down at a lunch counter and finding a connection with the founding documents of this nation is, indeed, something larger than ourselves.
Heart-truth sometimes needs to be lived in oppressive situations. Referring to the length of the letter, he says, “I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk” (King 20) instead of a jail cell. Our heart within finds a way to make meaning when we open up to our highest self.
We can find a way to express love and light in whatever capacity we choose — a pastor, a police officer, a politician, a teacher, a mechanic, an artist, a writer, a dancer, a jeweler, a clerk, a salesperson, or any of thousands upon thousands of endeavors empowered by Heart.
Then, Dr. King lays out his accountability. If the white clergymen he addresses find offense, he asks forgiveness of them, his fellow creatures. However, his largest accountability is to his own heart and his own God: “If I have said anything…that is an understatement of the truth and is indicative of my having a patience that makes me patient with anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me” (King 20). Brotherhood — that’s a greater concept than integration, and Dr. King ends by acknowledging such.
In the final paragraph, he illustrates this unequivocally to those he considers to be his brothers, no matter how they feel about him or the issue of race: “I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil rights leader, but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother” (King 20). Brotherhood — a mutuality bound not in gender, Sisterhood being just as integral — is the goal and the hope.
This is that which I call the fellowship of the heart. Those sold out to their own ego are in the majority, and they are not to be judged — exposed, yes, but not judged. Those who don’t answer heart within them will not know the blessing of this fellowship, and perhaps that is the ultimate judgment.
Dr. King ends with an estimation of the value of this: “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted…and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all of their scintillating beauty” (20). This transcends skin tones, cultures, and social expressions; it doesn’t negate them, just transcends so that we may appreciate one another.
The legal structure had to be corrected. The spiritual structure, as evidenced over the course of the last several years, especially, remains fractured. The legal structure means little if the spiritual is neglected because, as evidenced in Dr. King’s time, laws can be perverted to perpetuate hatred, racism, bigotry, and many forms of oppression. This perversion continues today.
The only answer to this is to discover self, create purpose, and live it in love and light of our own heart. Then, no matter if it’s sitting at counters, marching through shopping malls, or sincerely living any heart-truth, we protest inhumanity and hatred.
I Have the Same Dream. It’s not been fully realized, yet, Dr. King. (Photo by Jerónimo Bernot on Unsplash)“Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood / Martin Luther King, Jr.” (King 20). And I will add for the cause of Sisterhood, and really, humanity in general. Yes, peace and fellowship, my friend. Thank you for inviting me to your table to share, Martin.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!