Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Friend or Foe

The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe. ~Albert Einstein

What power we hold, and most of us don’t even know it. We mistake our lens of judgment for objective reality and fall victim to it. I remember a furious friend telling me that a particular person was a b- – -h and that a related situation was really f- – – -d up and that that was a FACT! At which point I confess I quit listening and started considering the implications of confusing judgment with fact. 

And of course, once we make that initial decision about the universe, then what we notice or see around us reinforces it, especially in today’s world of closed loop information. 

Today I went on YouTube for an experiment. I clicked on stories of the “three P’s” of this year – politics, pandemic, and protests. It’s hard to take in all these stories without experiencing a sense of frustration or despair. After a while, I switched and clicked on stories of random acts of kindness. If all you watch is news, which is so often skewed towards a particular bias, and to the negative aspects of that bias, you might be surprised by how many stories there are of people being kind, people being kind without regard to all the things that seem to so deeply divide us. I felt like I was bathing in these stories of kindness, drinking them, inhaling them. I felt uplifted and grateful, and inspired to look for opportunities to be kind.

How can I reconcile the two visions of the universe represented in these videos, one which seems friendly and the other than seems hostile? Do we believe in one only by denying evidence of the other? Are they mutually exclusive or can one include the other? If I make the decision to believe in a friendly universe, how do I explain such an overwhelming appearance of hostility? How do I include everything, denying nothing, and still choose to believe in a benign universe that is not out to get me? 

Perhaps the lens we choose is not about selective seeing and denying, but rather about orientation or perspective. If I choose to believe that I live in a friendly universe, then can I see everyone and everything with broader or deeper view? A view that connects us rather than divides us? A view that keeps my heart open even to those who act in ways that I find anathema to my own values? Can I protest without hatred? Can I advocate without condemnation? 

A Course in Miracles teaches that everything we do or think or say is either an expression of love, or a call for love. These are the only two choices, and there are no exceptions — everything is one or the other. When I view my world through this lens, then actions that I find indefensible become calls for love, evoking not outrage, but sorrowful compassion. And while I might not consider some people to be friends I want to hang out with, and while I might stand against their agendas of hatred and division, I can still acknowledge our basic human connection and not reject them as foes.

A friendly universe can hold it all, including everything and everyone, like the sun that shines on the evil and the good, and the rain that falls on the just and the unjust. 

I can choose to see this differently. ~A Course in Miracles

14 thoughts on “Friend or Foe”

  1. I share a similar sentiment on the Time Machine Christmas Party post, which is almost done and will "air" on Christmas Eve day. Just finding a way to stop upping the ante of hate in 2021!

  2. Sounds like a great post for Christmas, CW! Sounds like we are all looking for a way to find our way forward or back (time machine!) to connection. Thanks for commenting.

  3. "An expression of love or a call to love." This is the perfect example of a friendly universe, Galen. When we love God, and follow His commandment to love others as we love ourselves, we can't see things any other way. Yes, I will admit that I have a huge problem in understanding where the hatred gains footing and continues to grow, but our prayers can do much to assuage the effects. May we continue to believe that God intends good for those who love Him.

  4. Beautifully said, Martha. I'd like to think that God intends good for everyone, like the sun and the rain, not just for those who love him. But we have to be open to recognizing and receiving the gifts that the universe bestows. We are more likely to do this if we see the universe as friendly, which is analogous to loving God, I think. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Years ago now, I read the Course In Miracles and still keep many ideas that originated with the books. I just looked at my bookshelf to see if I still kept them somewhere, but no. I must have purged them and now wish I had them. I had written in the margins of many of the pages. But even though they are gone, many messages still reside in my heart. You have reminded me of one that I have never forgotten and know that I am a happier person because of it. And I am reminded of Martin Luther King's quote, "I have decided to stick to love, because hate is too great a burden to bear."

  6. Too bad you don't have the book anymore, but all of the Course is free online if you want to refresh your memory. That won't duplicate your margin notes, however. That is a powerful MLK quote — thanks for sharing it. Always good to hear from you, DJan.

  7. The universe, and the beings and forces that make their home here, are too complex for an either this or that. I tend to see the positive side, but accept that another layer is present in everything: that of negativity or hostility.

    Which side dominates and which attitude is the default setting makes the difference.

  8. I agree that our tendency to label things as good or bad can obscure the unifying network that permeates creation. To me, the characterization of the universe as friendly or hostile describes a perspective — if I choose to see the universe as friendly, this allows me to include everything without rejecting anything. It embraces the totality of the universe without struggling with an us/them conflict. I can approach my life experiences with an openness and curiosity instead of a defensive/offensive battle stance.

    The Tao Te Ching describes the universe not in terms of friendly or hostile, but rather without concern for good or bad, again like the sun that shines without regard for who deserves its warmth. That leaves our perspective up to us, then.

    I like your description of a default setting — that indeed makes the difference. Thanks for commenting.

  9. I think, especially now, most people are finding it hard to see the good side of things. It is too easy to get pulled into the "2020 sucks" conversation hamster wheel. I remember my Mum always said, it is so much easier to get involved in and excited about gossip involving mean things about someone, rather than sing their praises. It seems like humans are wired that way. And so, we get "used" to the bad news, made so much easier by the social media stream overload – at least for those who choose to spend so much time on it.

    I prefer to believe we have the choice to lean towards whatever we want to experience. Some things may not be in our control and yet, we still have the choice of how we want to respond to it.

    Your writing always touches my heart, Galen. So soothing. Thank you.

  10. This past year has had a lot of chaos, and it's been sad to see the division among many. At first, I watched alot of news and then could see that it wasn't healthy. I chose to watch good things, like you. We have a program on BYU TV that is Random Acts of Kindness and it is the best.
    During The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints world wide general conference this year there were beautiful messages on being of one heart and one mind and how to love one another even with differences. I believe we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father, who wants his son's and daughters to get a long and not to be prejudice, or have judgmental feelings. It was a magnificent conference that was uplifting, inspiring and at same time addressed all the social issues of our time.
    Have a lovely Christmas Celebration with your family. Blessings and hugs!

  11. Hi Galen! I continue to think, say and write that quote from Einstein over and over again. It puts so much in perspective and helps to explain both my own actions and that of others. I'll admit that something things seem pretty "unfriendly" in the world but I always bounce back to a more positive (and friendly) understanding–because, as you say, what is the alternative? It also reminds me of that story about the white wolf and the black wolf. The wolf we feed is the one that lives within. Thanks for these great reminders. ~Kathy

  12. Why is that, why do we tend towards connecting with each other through the negative side of things? We must derive some pleasure or imagined benefit. Some say that we are wired this way because it was an early survival attitude — vigilance against danger. But now? I don't know. But you are certainly right, and your mom was very wise. You have written for years about ways to uplift ourselves and others. I know it makes a difference. And you are also right about the hamster wheel aspect of this habitual thinking pattern. The reminders you offer help people break that habit and establish genuine connection through an open heart and a generous spirit. Thanks for commenting, Vidya.

  13. Isn't that great to have a TV program dedicated to stories of kindness?! We can bathe our spirits with examples of inspiring kindness rather than poisoning our spirits with news of hatred and greed. Merry Christmas to you, LeAnn, and to your family.

  14. I love that wolf story, Kathy. I heard it a little differently — instead of a white wolf and a black wolf, I heard it as a wolf filled with love and a wolf filled with hate. Yes, the one that fills us and guides us is the one we feed. Glad you also love that Einstein quote — amazing to me that one so brilliant in the science of the universe would identify a choice of perspective as the most important decision in our lives. Thanks for your comment.

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