By Michael Bernard Beckwith
How fitting it is to compose this article on a day when millions of individuals are participating in festivities honoring the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Membership in what he coined as the “Beloved Community” continues to find a home in countless lives, acknowledging our interconnectedness as a global family.
Stopping the cycle of violence begins in our relationship with ourselves, which informs how we relate to others, our community, and the larger world. If we have a nuclear war going on within our own mind, we may expect to have a corresponding battleground in our interactions with others, with life itself. It was another harbinger of peace, Mohandas K. Gandhi, who said, “If one does not practice nonviolence in one’s personal relations with others and hopes to use it in bigger affairs, one is vastly mistaken.”
Now is the moment for each of us to open our minds and hearts in great honesty with ourselves. Perhaps we are convinced that our personal abhorrence of violence prevents us from practicing it. Upon closer observation, however, we can catch ourselves practicing subtle forms of violence such as gossiping, sending mental bombs of judgment, anger, resentment or prejudice towards a particular person, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, or culture. When such violence expresses, it pollutes the atmosphere with toxins of hatred, aggression, and harm.
One of the major benefits of social media is its achievement in turning the planet into a global village, allowing persons from one nation to protest human injustices and wars taking place in another, as well as supporting individuals who are taking a courageous stand for human rights, oftentimes risking their lives. A perfect example is Malala Yousafzai, who publicly fought for her right and that of other girls to an education. On October 9, 2012, while heading home in a school van she was shot in the head by the Taliban, sparking an international outpouring of support and prayers. And in an unprecedented gesture, the Pakistani army and the government came together to save her life. Her book, I Am Malala, became a New York Times bestseller, and in 2013, at the age of 16, she became the youngest person ever nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Agents of change including Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr., Cesar Chavez, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne, to name a few, demonstrate to the world that when the heart is fully open it becomes an instrument of love, of nonviolence. We speak of individuals who change the times and conditions in which they live as being great lovers of humankind. Their lives are living proof that justice, equality, and peace are ignited by love. To have more love we must understand, as they did, that our true nature is love. To discern that our true nature is love is to know that we are created in the very image and likeness of Love, the essence of Life itself.
Through our individual inner work and spiritual practices, we discover that we have innate gifts to contribute to the creation of an enlightened society. We then become motivated to deliver these gifts in a mindset and heart-set of love, rather that out of fear that the world needs saving. We are not here to “save” the world; we are here to serve an emerging paradigm of love, compassion, and generosity of heart.
The Beloved Community is based on the awareness that we are One, not simply when we hold hands and sing the song “We Are the World,” but when we live by the universal spiritual principle of Oneness. The inner work we are called to do is as significant as all those who have set the example of what it means to be an emissary of love, peace, compassion, justice, and loving-kindness. Let us too set our aspiration to become an active architect in service to the Beloved Community.
Each of us is a choice-point in the center of the universe. What will be your choice? Are you willing to cultivate a heart of love as wide as the world? As world citizens, we have the opportunity to proclaim that now is the time to bring a halt to dehumanizing our global brothers and sisters, that now is the time to put an end to wars, world hunger, inadequate health care, lack of education and violating Mother Nature. The world is looking for love masters. Each and every one of us is that potential lover master.
Michael Bernard Beckwith is the founder and spiritual director of the Agape International Spiritual Center, co-founder and president of the Association for Global New Thought, and international co-chair of the Gandhi King Season for Nonviolence since inception in 1998. He is the author of A Manifesto of Peace, Life Visioning, and Spiritual Liberation.
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This article appears in:
2014 Catalyst, Issue 4: Season of Nonviolence