Memorial Day 2023: From Self-Hatred to Self-Love & Spreading Love

Otto Rank’s profound insight that a “philosophy of pessimism” is born of self-hatred gives us a deep understanding of the origin of much suffering in the world–but also a door to the way out of this suffering.

“Self-loathing.” Photo by TMan on Flickr.

If the door into the suffering of self-hatred often comes from abuse of many kinds, then the way out is to find goodness around us that elicits the love that is a response to goodness.  Much self-hatred is perpetuated, as Rank points out, by our overactive imaginations, the “artiste-manque,” the creativity we invest in beating up on ourselves. 

This we are prone to do of course in a culture that is based on competition more than co-operation, a culture therefore that has taken the basic dynamics of capitalism “to heart” as one says, that is, as a foundational way to look at the world and even at oneself.  “The survival of the fittest” meaning the meanest–not, unfortunately the survival of the fittest meaning “those who fit in well, who adapt, who recover, who forgive (including forgiving oneself).”

The self-hatred that births more hatred can be found in the destructive childhood of Adolf Hitler whose father beat him daily, as psychologist Alice Miller has demonstrated.  We all know how that turned out.  The abuse of the last president’s Ku Klux Klan honoring father explains a lot of recent history as well.  

““Benedicto: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds…”- Edward Abbey. Salt Lake City, UT. Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

When Julian of Norwich talks about God as “the goodness in nature and things” and how we are all born with “joy as our birthright,” she is clearly offering another way to look at the world and look at ourselves.

When Thomas Aquinas tells us that “wonder makes joy” and Webb Telescope is daily filling our souls with an ever-deepening story of the wonders of our universe and planet on which we all live, abundant joy should be in motion.  

We are invited beyond anthropocentric self-doubt and wrongs done us by parents, society or Patriarchy that brings with it “fatalistic self-hatred” as Adrienne Rich reminds us to the graced community of the more-than-human.  

“Memorial Day – A History of Reflection & Remembrance” by LionHeart FilmWorks

From self-hatred to Self-love meaning self-connected-to-the-whole.

If a pessimistic philosophy causes self-hatred, then true self-love, self in the context of the whole, can cause a blessing-oriented philosophy. A rediscovery of the Original Blessing that earth, cosmos and we all are is medicine for self-hatred.

Memorial Day remembers those who put Self ahead of self; and love ahead of fascism. 

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 295-300.  

And Fox, Original Blessing.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Memorial at The Wall. Photo by Mike Tolliver on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Is the news from Webb Telescope entering your soul and bringing with it a wonder that awakens joy?  And gratitude at being here?  How can we spread that into our self-hating and other-hating moment in history?

Recommended Reading

Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society

Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them. 
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science.  A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story

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15 thoughts on “Memorial Day 2023: From Self-Hatred to Self-Love & Spreading Love”

  1. Avatar

    There is a legitimate thread to the cause of pessimism, which breeds hatred, but the cure is not ourselves, nor what is found in the logic of the world, but in love, the source of which is God. Living with the Holy Spirit gives us all the goodness we will ever need to love ourselves and all the others to whom we are indebted as Children of God.

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      Thank you, Randal,
      for the gentle, sobering truth you share.
      I paraphrase:
      We are not the cure and neither is the logic of the world. However, we find all the goodness and love we will ever need to love ourselves and all others in the deep Source which is God, Living Holy Spirit, the Ground of our being.

  2. Avatar

    Every year on Memorial Day, I, also, try to remember all those who were wounded
    or lost their lives standing for peace and justice. This year I am thinking of the brave
    journalists around the world who have died trying to bring the truth to us. May we
    re-commit ourselves to their cause so that none of our brothers or sisters need to
    go to war ever again.

  3. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    What is it that stretches us beyond the lower ego/wounded sense of self, into identifying with and claiming our higher soul/whole sense of Self?

    The San Damiano Cross comes to mind. This iconic cross and it’s metaphoric symbolism is very different from most others. Jeshua stands with arms/heart stretched willingly wide open, rather than being depicted as wounded/crucified in defeat. In place of a crown of thorns, is a golden halo, depicting his conscious awareness of his true identity, as one whom embodies and radiates the nature of divinity within his humanity. Above is the image of his higher Soul sense of Self, which he is in conscious union and communion with, mirroring the spiritual reality of his wholeness. Above is the hand of God, whom has given this original blessing, of the beauty, goodness and nature of his/her GodSelf, hidden within all. Just below Jeshua’s knee, is an image of a rooster/cock, which represents humanities often rejection and denial of this spiritual gift and the reality of this incarnational mystery, that we are invited to participate in.

    The mystics St. Francis and St. Clare understood the meaning and purpose within this, and it stretched them to see the unfolding, evolving emergence of this spiritual reality within themselves and their lives. Julian of Norwhich understood this too, stating “Know well the meaning of the Cross, for its meaning is LOVE… and all manner of things shall be well with your Soul!”

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      Hi Ed,
      I watched the video a few minutes ago – Have you been able to find it? Sometimes you need to refresh your screen by sliding the pointer arrow up to the far right corner and selecting the circling arrow image. Press it. Then scroll down until you locate Matt’s video teaching. Hope this helps.

  4. Avatar

    Thank you Matthew for today’ DM on Memorial Day for spiritual remembrances of the tragic deaths and suffering of our past ancestors, and continued by today’s humanity, because of the spiritual lessons and evolution we still have not yet fully healed nor learned —
    “We are invited beyond anthropocentric self-doubt and wrongs done us by parents, society or Patriarchy that brings with it “fatalistic self-hatred” as Adrienne Rich reminds us to the graced community of the more-than-human…. From self-hatred to Self-love meaning self-connected-to-the-Whole… A rediscovery of the “Original Blessing” that earth, Cosmos and All We are is medicine for self-hatred…Memorial Day remembers those who put Self ahead of self: and Love (Love’s Living Spirit) ahead of fascism (in its many toxic patriarchal forms/societal institutions such as militarism and hierarchical religions, which we have also internalized).

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      Damian, it seems that you and Randal are sharing similar thoughts with different nuances. It would be interesting to word-smith your thoughts together into a we’ll-rounded whole.

  5. Avatar

    Here is a really good piece from Democracy Now on American Militarism and the current state of peace in the world. Things are looking bad and very concerning when it comes to our military budget and it’s aggressive stance.

  6. Avatar

    Most soldiers’ lives are not “given” in war but “taken” in U.S. wars, not to “defend freedom” as we are constantly told, but to protect and impose the Capitalist interests of the 1% and the corporations they own and run. Love is not one of the virtues that capitalism enshrines, but greed and lust for power. Yes, we suffer from lack of self-love and enlightened self-interest, else we would not tolerate capitalism and it abuses of humanity, the world, the Earth.

  7. Avatar

    Rocks and dust became lifeforms and evolved vast arrays of sensory abilities: a miracle. Then lifeforms harvested energy/ate each other and evolved strategies of detection, evasion, and battle: a deadly tension from the earliest times. A sense of “other/not me” to detect potential threats was necessary: you don’t attack something (usually) if you sense it as part of yourself. We actually swim in a flowing, interactive, transforming soup of atoms, energy and lifeforms, but we only sense a very tiny, localized area. We’re like a weak radio antenna that only picks up beams from within our own brain/bodily sensors, but we think we’re bigger. We feel justified in dominating and attacking anything too “other.” And we think of almost everything in the universe as “other.”

    Mystical unitive awareness demolishes that arrogant/fearful illusion of separation, of the egoic “I-not-you” self, directly transforming into a very different consciousness, the Self of the total, unbounded, loving, radically category-smashing, transcendent One. Christ/the Logos is the template of that mystical exemplar, giving us a road map for growing beyond our shells of isolation.

    Overriding the instinctive and cultural fears and conditioning that keep us separated and hating is hard, but we have the potential for transcendent love and unity built into us. That is a miracle.

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